Dec 06, 2022
Sen. Bernie Sanders on Tuesday signaled that he has the votes needed to pass a War Powers Resolution that would block U.S. support for the Saudi-led war on Yemen, where more than 23 million people are suffering from one of the world's largest humanitarian crises even amid a cease-fire.
The Vermont Independent senator toldThe Intercept that he plans to bring the resolution to the Senate floor for a vote "hopefully next week," and when asked whether he has enough support for the measure he said, "I think we do, yes."
"Whether a truce is re-negotiated or not, Congress needs to assert its constitutional authority over war-making under the Biden administration."
A cease-fire between the Saudi-led alliance and the Houthis expired in early October, but both sides have maintained peace. However, a blockade by the Saudis has persisted, leaving tens of millions without sufficient access to food, healthcare, and clean water.
"We must put an end to the unauthorized and unconstitutional involvement of U.S. armed forces in the catastrophic Saudi-led war in Yemen and Congress must take back its authority over war," Sanders said in July when he introduced the resolution. "More than 85,000 children in Yemen have already starved and millions more are facing imminent famine and death... This war has created the world's worst humanitarian crisis today and it is past time to end U.S. complicity in those horrors."
The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) said Sanders' revelation Tuesday was "massive news" for the fight to end U.S. involvement in the war.
\u201c\u2757\ufe0f\u2757\ufe0f MASSIVE news. By stopping military support for the Saudi-led coalition, Congress can help bring the horrific conflict in Yemen to an end. \n\nIt's long overdue for the US to end its complicity in this humanitarian crisis. Thank you to @SenSanders! https://t.co/KYLt1bvmrD\u201d— FCNL (Quakers) (@FCNL (Quakers)) 1670351560
Sanders was the lead sponsor of a War Powers Resolution to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led war which passed in the Senate in March 2019, but former President Donald Trump vetoed the resolution.
"Whether a truce is re-negotiated or not, Congress needs to assert its constitutional authority over war-making under the Biden administration just as they did when Trump was assisting the Saudi-led coalition," Yemeni-American academic Shireen Al-Adeimi told The Intercept.
Hassan El-Tayyab, legislative director for Middle East policy at FCNL, and Annelle Sheline, a research fellow at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, wrote on Monday that the passage of a War Powers Resolution is the "most viable" action Congress can take to rein in U.S.-Saudi military cooperation.
"By removing the possibility of more U.S. support for Riyadh and its partners to renew airstrikes in Yemen, Congress can play a constructive role to keep the pressure on the Saudis to negotiate an extension of the truce," they wrote at Inkstick Media, adding that the resolution "only needs a simple majority in the House and Senate to pass, while other proposed legislation would require 60 votes in the Senate to defeat a filibuster."
\u201cWhile members have proposed a range of legislation aimed at reining in US-Saudi military cooperation, the Yemen War Powers Resolution is the most viable:\n- Only needs 50 Senate votes to pass\n- Expedited for a vote\n\n@HassanElTayyab & me, for @inkstickmedia \nhttps://t.co/P3oWUeluAH\u201d— Dr. Annelle Sheline (@Dr. Annelle Sheline) 1670347189
The resolution would put pressure on the Saudi-led coalition to negotiate a long-term peace agreement, said Cavan Kharrazian, foreign policy adviser for Demand Progress.
"Without a clear path towards a long-term truce, Saudi Arabia could restart its deadly bombing campaign. If passed, the resolution would ensure that the U.S. is no longer a party to the Saudi-UAE-led coalition's offensive campaign," said Kharrazian.
Last month, President Joe Biden drew condemnation from progressives when his administration said in court filings that Saudi Prime Minister Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman should be granted sovereign immunity in a civil case regarding the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), said at the time that the move could only be "a capitulation to Saudi pressure tactics, including slashing oil output to twist our arms to recognize MBS' fake immunity ploy."
The War Powers Resolution that Sanders plans to hold a vote on as soon as next week "provides a clear, targeted congressional response to Saudi Arabia and Mohammed bin Salman for their efforts to manipulate global energy markets and human rights violations," said Kharrazian.
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