Senators to force vote on $1.15B Saudi arms sale
© Getty Images

A group of senators is planning to force a vote this month to block a $1.15 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia.

Sens. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulWhite House debates vaccines for air travel Senate lawmakers let frustration show with Blinken Rand Paul: 'Hatred for Trump' blocking research into ivermectin as COVID-19 treatment MORE (R-Ky.), Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphySenators slow Biden with holds at Pentagon, State Tell our troops: 'Your sacrifice wasn't in vain' Sunday shows preview: Bombing in Kabul delivers blow to evacuation effort; US orders strikes on ISIS-K MORE (D-Conn.), Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenAl Franken on another Senate run: 'I'm keeping my options open' Andrew Cuomo and the death of shame Could Andrew Cuomo — despite scandals — be re-elected because of Trump? MORE (D-Minn.) and Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeGraham found Trump election fraud arguments suitable for 'third grade': Woodward book Economy adds just 235K jobs in August as delta hammers growth Lawmakers flooded with calls for help on Afghanistan exit MORE (R-Utah) introduced a joint resolution of disapproval on Thursday that, if passed, would undercut a planned sale of tanks and related equipment. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Paul said in a statement that selling the military equipment to Saudi Arabia "is a recipe for disaster and an escalation of an ongoing arms race in the region." 

Senators are using a little-known loophole in the Arms Export Control Act (AECA) to bring the resolution to the floor.

Under the AECA, senators have to give a Senate committee 10 calendar days to take up the resolution before they can bring it back to the Senate floor. Under that timeline, the earliest the senators could force a vote is Sept. 19. 

The State Department approved the sale last month. A Saudi-led coalition has been fighting the Houthis, Iran-backed Shiite rebels in Yemen, but lawmakers are concerned the equipment will be used in missions that kill civilians and worsen the country's humanitarian crisis. 

Murphy added that the war in Yemen "has become a disaster that is making our country less safe every day." 

“Thousands of civilians are being killed, and terrorist groups inside the country, like al Qaeda and [the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria], are getting stronger. Until the Saudis conduct changes, the U.S. should put a pause on further arms sales," he said. 

Thursday's resolution comes after 64 House lawmakers sent a resolution to President Obama last month asking that he delay the sale. Murphy and Paul also introduced an amendment to an annual defense policy bill to bolster congressional oversight of military sales to Saudi Arabia.

Also this week, the House is set to vote on another controversial measure involving Saudi Arabia. It would allow the families of 9/11 victims to sue the country's leaders.