For Immediate Release
Michael Briggs (202) 228-6492
Sanders, Lee, Khanna, Gaetz Lead Bipartisan Effort to Defund U.S. Role in Saudi War in Yemen
WASHINGTON - Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) led a bipartisan group of 44 lawmakers urging Congress to defund unauthorized U.S. military involvement in the Saudi-led war in Yemen in the upcoming bill to authorize Pentagon spending. The U.S.-Saudi military campaign in Yemen has led to the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, leaving 24 million Yemenis—80 percent of the population—in need of humanitarian assistance.
Writing to the chairmen and ranking members of the armed service committees in the House and Senate who oversee the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of Fiscal Year 2020, the members of Congress called for the inclusion of an amendment introduced by Reps. Khanna, Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), and Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) to end all “U.S. involvement in offensive strikes in the Saudi-led campaign against the Houthis in Yemen.” The House amendment passed by a vote of 240-185. Sanders introduced a similar amendment to the Senate NDAA.
The lawmakers note that bipartisan majorities in both chambers of Congress have voted repeatedly to end unauthorized U.S. military participation in the Saudi- and Emirati-led conflict. S.J.Res. 7, introduced by Sanders, Lee, and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), passed by 54 votes in the Senate and 247 votes in the House. “As you finalize the NDAA, we strongly urge you to include the House provision that prohibits military support for the Saudi-led coalition’s war against the Houthis in Yemen,” wrote the members of Congress. “Inclusion of this amendment would ensure that our men and women in uniform are not involved in a war which has never been authorized by Congress, and continues to undermine rather than advance U.S. national security interests.”
The NDAA’s inclusion of the Khanna-Smith-Schiff-Jayapal amendment would ratify Congress’s intent to end the war, by terminating U.S. logistical support, intelligence sharing, and the transfer of spare parts to Saudi and Emirati warplanes conducting aerial strikes. Brookings Institution Senior Fellow Bruce Riedel has argued that the Saudi-led aerial bombing campaign in Yemen “will be grounded” if the United States “halts the flow of logistics.” The amendment would also end any U.S. effort to command, coordinate, participate in the movement of, or accompany Saudi and Emirati forces in the war, including midair refueling for warplanes engaged in bombings.
Remarking on this year’s deadliest Saudi bombing in Yemen, which killed 100 over the weekend, Sanders said, “U.S. logistical support, spare-parts transfers and intelligence sharing for the Saudi dictatorship's airstrikes make us complicit in this nightmare. By passing our bill earlier this year, the House and Senate have spoken: America’s involvement in Saudi Arabia’s war is unconstitutional and must end immediately. Now we must use Congress’s power of the purse to block every nickel of taxpayer money from going to assist the Saudi dictatorship as it bombs and starves civilians in Yemen,” said Sanders. “By standing firm and shutting off funding, we can put an end to this humanitarian catastrophe,” Sanders concluded.
“Including our Yemen amendment in the final NDAA is essential to ending the Saudi-led war in Yemen. By banning the transfer of spare parts to the Saudis, we will immediately ground their air force and put an end to the bombing of innocent civilians,” said Khanna. “The president has to sign the NDAA, and including our amendment even gives him the chance to live up to his campaign promise to end foreign wars.”
The letter was signed by Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Brian Schatz (Hawaii), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.). The letter was joined by Representatives Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), David Schweikert (R-Ariz.), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), Gil Cisneros (D-Calif.), Deb Haaland (D-N.M.), Anthony Brown (D-Md.), Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), Andy Levin (D-Mich.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Jim Himes (D-Conn.), Veronica Escobar (D-TX), Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), Andy Kim (D-N.J.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.), David Cicilline (D-R.I.), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), and Lori Trahan (D-Mass.).
Read the letter here.
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