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The Trump administration on Friday notified Congress of the President invokes his emergency to circumvent the authority of lawmakers, the approval of the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia, citing the threat to the United States from Iran.
The move comes as trump announced plans to send on Friday, around 1,600 troops in the Middle East against the backdrop of rising tensions with Iran.
TRUMP APPROVES PENTAGON TO SEND A PLAN FOR MORE U.S. TROOPS IN THE MIDDLE EAST
“Iran’s malignant activity represents a fundamental threat to the stability of the Middle East and to Americans at home and abroad. We took this step to reinforce the prudent diplomatic deterrence, our partners in the long term, the ability to self-defense and threat mitigation,” said a senior official of the Ministry of foreign Affairs to Fox News.
The official added, “the Congress does not act, but we will. “
The administration with the help of an emergency loophole in the Arms Export Control Act), in order to move forward with sales of $7 billion, in precision guided munitions, other bombs, ammunition, and aircraft maintenance support for Saudi Arabia, along with the United Arab Emirates and Jordan, without the legislature approval.
“These sales are our allies, enhance Middle East stability and help these Nations to deter and defend itself from the Islamic Republic of Iran,” said Pompeo in a Friday statement.
On Capitol Hill, the Chairman of the foreign Affairs Committee, Republican Sen. Jim Risch-Idaho, said he was “review and analysis of the legal justification for this action and the associated impacts.”
The administration pointed out that this authority was invoked former President on several occasions, including in 1979, 1984, 1990 and 2006.
The plan was quickly rejected by Democratic senators.
“I’m disappointed, but not surprised, that the Trump administration has once again failed to prioritize our long-term national security interests, or for human rights, and instead it is the granting of favors to authoritarian States such as Saudi Arabia,” said New Jersey sen. Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
To sell “President Trump to bypass Congress for more weapons for Saudi Arabia is unacceptable,” said California sen Dianne Feinstein.
“President Trump is just a hole, the use of this slip, because he knows that the Congress would disapprove of this sale,” said Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, who serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
In his message, Pompeo said, he had the determination “that an emergency exists that requires the immediate sale of” the weapons ” to deter, more to the influence of the government of Iran in the entire region of the Middle East.” He said that the transfer “must occur as quickly as possible, in order to deter further Iranian adventurism in the Gulf and throughout the Middle East.”
It comes as the administration has actively established close relations with Saudi Arabia courted the Congress objections, in particular after the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, an American columnist for The Washington Post, the Saudi agent in October.
There is a precedent for the use of the emergency exemption for the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia. President Ronald Reagan called it in the 1980s, and both presidents George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush used it for sales prior to the Gulf war of 1991 and the Iraq war in 2003, respectively.
Fox News’ rich Edson and Chad Pergram and The Associated Press contributed to this report.