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Despite Famine, Khashoggi, and School Bus Massacre, House GOP Moves Swiftly to Keep US Involved in Saudi-Led War on Yemen

"Apparently, neither Saudi Arabia's brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi nor its mid-summer bombing of a school bus packed full of children were enough to break the ice surrounding House Majority Leader Paul Ryan's heart."

Mourners carry the coffin of a child at the funeral procession for those killed in an airstrike on a bus carried out by a warplane of the Saudi Arabia-led coalition on August 13, 2018 in Saada, Yemen. (Photo: Mohammed Hamoud/Getty Images)

Anti-war groups have been cautiously hopefully in recent weeks that the U.S. would withdraw support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen following widespread outcry over Saudi Arabia's murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi—but those hopes were dashed late Tuesday when House Republicans moved to stop a long-planned-for vote from going to the floor.

In their final weeks in control of the House Rules Committee, Republicans adopted a rule to de-prioritize Rep. Ro Khanna's (D-Calif.) bill invoking the War Powers Resolution (H.R. 138), which argues that U.S. participation in the assault on Yemen is illegal because Congress never voted to approve it. The move ensured that Republicans can avoid voting on the bill—a vote in which they would have to choose between standing up against a war that has killed more than 15,000 civilians or angering President Donald Trump.

The Republican maneuver was denounced as "disgraceful" by the anti-war group Peace Action.

"Apparently, neither Saudi Arabia's brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi nor its mid-summer bombing of a school bus packed full of children were enough to break the ice surrounding House Majority Leader Paul Ryan's heart," said Kevin Martin, president of the group, in a statement.

"Millions of people in Yemen are on the verge of starvation, a crisis brought on by Saudi tactics in the war, yet in the face of a maelstrom of condemnation of Saudi Arabia from the national and international community, House leadership would still rather prevent Congress from voting on whether or not to end U.S. support for Saudi Arabia's starvation campaign in Yemen than risk interfering with arms industry profits," he added.

Peace Action and other groups have been joined since the war began in 2015 by Democratic lawmakers including Khanna and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) as well as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in demanding that the U.S. end its support for the Saudi-led assault. The calls for the passage of H.R. 138 and the Senate's version of the bill have gained traction since October, after the Saudis admitted to the murder of Khashoggi.

Last week, the Trump administration announced it would stop refueling the Saudis' planes, following Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's call for a ceasefire in Yemen. Both announcements were met with cautious optimism from progressives and humanitarian groups along with criticism of their late arrival. 

The GOP's decision on Tuesday made it clear that the party has no plans to use its final weeks in power to help stop the assault on Yemen, in which recent targets have included a school bus, a marketplace, and a wedding party—all using American intelligence and bombs.

Democratic lawmakers and other critics rebuked the Republicans for what House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) called an abdication of their congressional responsibility.

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