The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Paul Kawika Martin, Peace Action, 951-217-7285 cell,

Senate to Vote Soon on Overriding Trump's Veto of Yemen War Powers Resolution


Expert Contact:
Paul Kawika Martin, Peace Action, 951-217-7285 cell,

For over twenty years, Paul Kawika (ca vee' ca) Martin, Peace Action's senior director for policy and political affairs, has worked with numerous environmental, peace, animal rights and human rights organizations including Greenpeace and the Nobel prize-winning Physicians for Social Responsibility. As Peace Action's chief lobbyist, Paul has been in close contact with all the key legislators and NGO leaders working on S.J.Res. 7 and has lobbied extensively in support of it. In 2018, he penned an op-ed published in the Hill entitled "End America's unauthorized war in Yemen," urging Congress to pass an earlier version of the Yemen war powers resolution. Paul is currently on the board of the National Priorities Project, PeacePAC and the Herbert Scoville Jr. Peace Fellowship.

Procedural Background:
The Senate is expected to vote as soon as tomorrow afternoon (Thursday, 5/2) on the question of overriding President Trump's veto of S.J.Res. 7, legislation directing the president to withdraw U.S. support for the war in Yemen. The vote will likely be a procedural vote, such as a motion to table, rather than an up or down vote to override, and will likely occur after votes on nominations. The Senate passed S.J.Res. 7 on March 13, 2019 in a vote of 54 - 46, and the House followed suit on April 4, 2019 in a vote of 247 - 175, sending the legislation to the president's desk.

Overriding President Trump's veto will require two-thirds of both houses of Congress--67 votes in the Senate, and 290 votes in the House. As the bill originated in the Senate, the Senate will take up the question of a vote to override first, and if it passes with a two-thirds majority vote, the question will move to the House.

As all Senate Democrats and the two Independent senators who caucus with the Democrats voted for the resolution, assuming all who supported the resolution will support a vote to override, 13 Republicans who voted against the resolution would need to support the vote to override for the effort to succeed, making its success unlikely. If the Senate votes to override Trump's veto, 43 representatives who voted against the legislation in the House would have to support a vote to override for the legislation to become law.

Political Background:
This vote is the culmination of years of work by congressional champions of a more just and responsible U.S. foreign policy, and by a coalition of peace groups, human rights groups, and other advocacy groups (representing millions of Americans) who have organized and lobbied tirelessly to end U.S. support for the brutal Saudi and UAE-led war in Yemen.

Ahead of this expected vote, the humanitarian situation in Yemen is as dire as ever. Roughly 24 million people, almost 80 percent of Yemen's population, rely on humanitarian aid, and over 14 million "require immediate assistance in order to save and sustain their lives," according to the United Nations.

As the 2020 election draws closer, U.S. involvement in Yemen as well as the broader debate around congressional war powers will be important foreign policy litmus tests for candidates hoping to differentiate themselves from a president who has vetoed the will of a majority of Congress, and a majority of the American people.

Next Steps for Congress:
Should the vote or votes to override President Trump's veto fail to secure a two-thirds majority in both houses, Congress still has other options for ending U.S. support for the war in Yemen. As budget processes move forward, Congress can deny funding for ongoing U.S. support for the war. Congress can also work to block arms sales, which remain one of the most significant forms of U.S. support for the war.

The Arms Export Control Act gives members of Congress the power to introduce privileged legislation to force votes on whether or not to allow arms sales of a certain value to move forward. Senators have already invoked that power twice--once in 2016 and once in 2017--in efforts to block arms sales to Saudi Arabia, though both efforts failed to secure support from a majority of Congress. But a lot has changed since then and a majority of Congress may now support blocking arms sales to the coalition.

Key committee members may also be able to block arms sales without a majority of Congress. In June of 2017, Senator Bob Corker exerted his power as Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to block arms sales to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and several other Gulf nations over a diplomatic spat between Saudi Arabia and Qatar. In June of 2018, Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) used his position as the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to prevent a proposed sale of precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Peace Action is the United States' largest peace and disarmament organization with over 100,000 members and nearly 100 chapters in 34 states, works to achieve the abolition of nuclear weapons, promote government spending priorities that support human needs and encourage real security through international cooperation and human rights.