Bid to block part of Saudi arms deal fails in Senate

The vote Tuesday was 53-47, clearing the way for the sale to be finalized.

Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, came out against the munitions sale to Saudi Arabia last week, citing the Trump administration's decision to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia instead of trying to find a solution to the civil war in Yemen, where the Saudi-led coalition is accused of bombing civilians.

The sale's supporters, largely Republican, said opponents - in seeking to score political points against U.S. President Donald Trump - would strengthen Iran's hand. Chuck Schumer of NY says Saudi Arabia's record of human rights and humanitarian abuses is well-documented.

"Saudi Arabia bombed a funeral procession", Paul said on the Senate floor, referring to an October 2016 incident. "I would hope that we would rise above that and realize that Saudi Arabia, with their flaws, has been a reliable ally". But the airstrikes by American-made Saudi jets - and using mostly American-made bombs - have hit schools, medical facilities, markets, and in one instance a wedding party that killed over 100 people.

The resolution's Democratic co-sponsors, Senators Chris Murphy of Connecticut, Al Franken of Minnesota and Jeff Merkley of OR, framed it as a condemnation of Saudi attacks on civilians. Saudi officials have denied the charge.

"We need to send a message to both the Trump Administration and the Saudis to work much harder to avoid civilian casualties, expedite humanitarian relief, and push for a peaceful end to the war through a negotiated political settlement", Cardin said.

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"Seventeen million people in Yemen are on the verge of starvation", Paul said.

"Should the United States be actively involved with refueling the Saudi planes, with picking targets, with having advisers on the ground?"

On Monday, Paul went on CNN to voice his concern with Trump's Saudi deal.

The Riyadh regime has maintained a policy of ambiguity regarding its casualties in the war on Yemen. "Values do mean something.' And that we shouldn't be offering our weapons and our support to a country with these terrible abuses", Paul said. "And yet, here we are on the verge of war".

The bipartisan effort to block Trump's arms deal is lead by Sens.

Sens. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) sided with the majority of Republicans in supporting the weapons sale. Every single member of the Senate should have voted for the Resolution. The tally demonstrated growing dissent among American lawmakers who are uncomfortable with the US military's continued support of the Saudi-led coalition's intervention in Yemen, where civilians have borne the brunt of Saudi Arabia's proxy war with Houthi rebels.


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