Senate kills resolution that would end US involvement in Yemen

Matt Saintsing
March 20, 2018 - 4:57 pm
yemen

Photo by Xinhua/Sipa USA

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A resolution that would have ended American military involvment in the Saudi-led coaliton in Yemen will not go to the Senate floor for a vote. The chamber was expected to vote Tuesday, the same day a Saudi Crown Prince visited Washington. 

By a vote of 55-44, the senate voted against a procedural measure to advance the measure. 

The vote would have aimed to address U.S. war powers and potentially shut down U.S. military activity in Yemen in as soon as a month, unless Congress formally authorizes continued involvement.

The U.S. is supporting a Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen since 2015.

The initaitve brought by a diverse group of Senators including Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), and Chris Murphy (D-Ct.), represents the most recent attempt by Congress to reign in executive authority over the use of military force.

Last week, the bipartisan trio of Senators response to a Department of Defense letter that outlined the Pentagon’s opposition to a War Powers Resolution that would end American military efforts in Yemen.

“For too long, and under both parties, Congress has abdicated its responsibility to provide authorization for the use of military force,” the senators’ letter reads.

"Regardless of what one thinks of our involvement in Yemen, as we enter a fourth year of helping the Saudis prosecute this war it is important that Congress either provides express authorization for our involvement in the conflict or calls on the president to cease operations.”

The proposed measure would have quickly force the withdrawal of American military personnel from Yemen and members of the Trump administration and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) are actively lobbying against it.

 “The civil war in Yemen has led to a devastating humanitarian crisis – more than 10,000 civilians have been killed and millions of Yemenis are on the brink of famine,” said Sen. Tim Kaine (D- Va.).

“In support of the Saudi-led coalition, the U.S. has stumbled into yet another war without a clear strategy or end in sight. I support the Sanders-Lee-Murphy proposal because I am concerned about continued U.S. involvement in Yemen against the Houthis.”

Kaine has, for years, been outspoken about the executive branch’s efforts to expand the use of military force without congressional authorization.

The U.S. is proving intelligence, reconnaissance and some midair refueling to Saudi Arabia, who says they are fighting on behalf of the massively weakened Yemeni government. Some critics say Saudi Arabia’s activity is a proxy war against Iran, which is supporting the Houthi rebels.

The Pentagon is in the middle of an investigation into a botched raid Trump authorized just five days into his presidency. The raid resulted in the death of a Navy SEAL, Ryan Owens.

In November, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelming passed a resolution condemning American involvement in Yemen, but efforts to pass a stronger measure have, so far, gone nowhere.

The Pentagon has not revealed how many Americans are in Yemen at any given time.