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'Microcosm of Everything Wrong With US Foreign Policy': Senate Fails to Override Trump Veto on Yemen

"Congress has a moral duty to continue pushing for an end to U.S. military involvement in Yemen."

Jake Johnson

Yemeni children stand in front of a building destroyed by airstrikes. (Photo: Yahya Arhab/EPA)

The Republican-controlled Senate on Thursday voted down an effort to override President Donald Trump's veto of the Yemen War Powers resolution.

The bill—introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)—would have ended U.S. support for Saudi Arabia's deadly bombing campaign in Yemen, which has created the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

"Yemen is a microcosm of everything that is wrong with U.S. foreign policy. It goes to the heart of how the U.S. is conducting dozens of hidden wars around the world without anybody at home noticing."
—Win Without War

Trump vetoed the resolution last month. The Senate needed 67 votes to override the president's veto, but the final margin of Thursday's vote was 53-45.

Every "no" vote was cast by a Republican. Seven Republicans joined Democrats in voting in favor of the veto override.

In a statement after the veto override failed, Sanders vowed to continue working to end U.S. involvement in Yemen.

"The bad news today: we were unable today to override Trump’s veto regarding U.S. intervention in this horrific war in Yemen," said Sanders. "The good news: for the first time in 45 years, Congress used the War Powers Act to reassert its constitutional responsibility over the use of armed forces."

"This is the beginning of a bipartisan process to take back our responsibility over these most important matters," Sanders added. "My likeminded colleagues and I, in a bipartisan fashion, will utilize all of the legislative tools at our disposal—including further use of the War Powers Act."

Paul Kawika Martin—senior director for policy and political affairs at Peace Action—said that while Thursday's vote "marks the end of the road for the Yemen war powers resolution, it does not relieve Congress of its responsibility to act."

"Successful or not, every congressional effort to end our involvement in Yemen puts more pressure on Saudi Arabia to end the war," Martin said in a statement. "At the same time, grassroots efforts to end U.S. involvement in Yemen are foregrounding a critical debate on our nation's foreign policy in Yemen and beyond in the lead up to the 2020 election."

Martin added that Congress must continue doing everything in its power to end American complicity in Yemen, where an estimated 14 million people are on the brink of famine.

"Congress has a moral duty to continue pushing for an end to U.S. military involvement in Yemen, whether by blocking funding for the war, or blocking arms sales to members of the Saudi-led coalition," he said. "The American people, the Constitution and basic human decency demand action."

The Senate's failure to override Trump's veto came just days after a United Nations report found that the death toll from the war in Yemen could surpass 230,000 by the end of 2019.

Ahead of Thursday's vote, Sanders's staff delivered copies of the U.N. report to Republican senators in an effort to build support for the override and "make sure they understand the catastrophe that the United States is creating in Yemen."

In a series of tweets, the advocacy group Win Without War vowed to "continue to push Congress to reclaim its power and end U.S. involvement in the war in Yemen through every avenue we can find."

"Yemen is a microcosm of everything that is wrong with U.S. foreign policy," concluded Win Without War. "It goes to the heart of how the U.S. is conducting dozens of hidden wars around the world without anybody at home noticing."

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