Experts urge senators to back bill ending US involvement in Yemen war

Experts urge senators to back bill ending US involvement in Yemen war
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A group of experts, advocates, former officials and others are urging senators to support a bipartisan effort to end U.S. involvement in Yemen’s civil war.

“We strongly encourage you and your Senate colleagues to cosponsor and vote for S.J.Res 54, which defends the constitutional linchpin of Congress’s sole authority to declare war and promises to help end what aid groups consider the worst humanitarian crisis in the world,” the 37-person group wrote in a letter sent to every senator Thursday and obtained by The Hill.

Signatories include former U.S. ambassador to Yemen Stephen Seche; Bruce Ackerman, a Yale Law School professor who has previously challenged the legal authorization of recent U.S. wars; Nobel peace laureates Jody Williams and Tawakkol Karman; retired Lt. Col. Daniel Davis; retired Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Colin Powell; Bruce Fein, associate deputy attorney general in the Reagan administration; and former Rep. Mickey Edwards (R-Okla.).

The legislation at issue is a joint resolution from Sens. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersGillibrand unveils bill to offer banking services at post offices Webb: Bernie Sanders announces his ‘new’ communism jobs, health-care plan A new progressive standard on campaign cash: It can't come from corporations MORE (I-Vt.), Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeSenators to Trump: Let Mueller finish Russia probe The Hill's Morning Report: Can Trump’s VA pick make it through the week? Mike Lee pens op-ed calling legislation to protect Mueller 'unconstitutional' MORE (R-Utah) and Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyMichigan Dem: Detroit-style pizza 'sweeping the nation' Overnight Cybersecurity: Senators want info on 'stingray' surveillance in DC | Bills to secure energy infrastructure advance | GOP lawmaker offers cyber deterrence bill Overnight Health Care: GOP pushes stiff work requirements for food stamps | Johnny Isakson opens up about family's tragic loss to opioids | Republicans refuse to back vulnerable Dem's opioids bill | Dems offer new public option plan MORE (D-Conn.) that would remove U.S. forces from hostilities in Yemen between a Saudi Arabia-led coalition and Houthi rebels who receive weapons from Iran.

The U.S. supports the Saudi coalition by selling them weapons, providing limited intelligence and helping with logistics such as air refueling.

The senators believe they can force a floor vote on the resolution based on procedures outlined in a law governing arms exports.

In Thursday’s letter, the experts highlighted the United Nation’s assessment that the war has left 8.4 million Yemenis on the verge of famine and that States Department’s assessment that the war has continued a security vacuum that allows for the growth of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the Yemeni branch of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

U.S. involvement in war, the experts asserted, has not been authorized by either a war declaration or specific statutory authorization as required by the War Powers Act.

They also argued the resolution is “purely procedural” since it gives Congress 30 days to pass a war authorization before ending U.S. involvement.

“S.J.Res 54 directs the removal of U.S. forces from such unauthorized hostilities within 30 days unless and until a declaration of war or a specific statutory authorization is enacted,” they wrote. “As such, the resolution is purely procedural and constitutional in scope: it does not prevent the president or members of Congress from pursuing and obtaining either of the two legal requirements needed to engage U.S. forces in hostilities alongside Saudi Arabia and against the Houthis.”