A bipartisan group of U.S. senators Thursday introduced a joint resolution to block a White House agreement to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia.
The group includes Rand Paul (R-KY), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and the resolution aims to stop the sale of 280 medium-range air-to-air missiles, 596 missile launchers, and other weapons, equipment, and training related to the missile systems. The sale is worth an estimated $650 million. The State Department signed off on the sale, and the Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered notice to Congress of the proposed sale on November 4.
The senators were united in their criticism of Saudi Arabia’s ongoing war in Yemen. Sen. Paul said the sale would “be rewarding reprehensible behavior,” while Sen. Lee called the war in Yemen a “humanitarian tragedy.” Sen. Sanders said that the United States “should not be rewarding them with more arms sales” while Saudi Arabia “continues to wage its devastating war in Yemen and repress its own people.”
Late last week, Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) introduced a similar joint resolution in the House, citing the same reasoning as the senators. “It is simply unconscionable to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia while they continue to slaughter innocent people and starve millions in Yemen, kill and torture dissidents, and support modern-day slavery,” she said. Congress, she noted, “has the authority to stop these sales, and we must exercise that power.”