Senate rejects push to block Saudi arms sale
© Greg Nash
The Senate on Wednesday easily rejected a motion to block the $1.15 billion sale of military equipment to Saudi Arabia as lawmakers gear up for a separate fight with the White House over the country. 
Supporters of the resolution — spearheaded by Sens. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulWatchdog calls for probe into Gohmert 'disregarding public health guidance' on COVID-19 Massie plans to donate plasma after testing positive for COVID-19 antibodies After trillions in tax cuts for the rich, Republicans refuse to help struggling Americans MORE (R-Ky.), Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyDemocrats ramp up warnings on Russian election meddling Democrat calls on White House to withdraw ambassador to Belarus nominee Democrats try to force Trump to boost medical supplies production MORE (D-Conn.), Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeDavis: The Hall of Shame for GOP senators who remain silent on Donald Trump Overnight Defense: Air Force general officially becomes first African American service chief | Senators introduce bill to block Trump armed drone sale measure | State Department's special envoy for Iran is departing the Trump administration Senators introduce bill to block Trump armed drone sale measure MORE (R-Utah) and Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenTina Smith wins Democratic Senate primary in Minnesota Poll: Tina Smith's lead over probable GOP challenger within margin of error in Minnesota Senate race CNN publishes first Al Franken op-ed since resignation MORE (D-Minn.) — would have needed 60 senators to vote against McConnell's motion to keep the resolution alive. 
The State Department approved the sale of tanks and related equipment last month. A Saudi-led coalition has been fighting the Houthis, Iran-backed Shiite rebels, in Yemen. 
Supporters of the resolution are concerned the the equipment will be used in missions to kill civilians and worsen the country's humanitarian crisis.
Lee, noting that Saudi Arabia has been an ally in an unstable region, said the deal shouldn't "take effect without so much as a whimper from members of Congress who might feel the need to raise possible concerns." 
Wednesday's vote comes in the shadow of a standoff over separate legislation that would let families of Sept. 11 terror attack victims sue Saudi Arabia in U.S. court. President Obama has pledged to veto the bill, and the Senate is expected to vote on an override next week.
Murphy said it was "unfortunate" that the two bills are being taken up at the same time. 
However, he acknowledged that those opposing the military sale faced an uphill fight regardless of timing, saying, "I knew from the beginning that this was not becoming law." 
"I think there are a lot of people who will vote to override the [Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act] veto and then vote against our resolution as a means of balancing their votes," he said. 
Murphy and his colleagues ran into a fresh round of opposition this week, with McConnell saying Tuesday that he will "aggressively" oppose the resolution of disapproval. 
He added Wednesday that it would "harm our nation's long-term strategic interests in the Persian Gulf and the broader Middle East." 
"The resolution would also ignore the shared interests we have with Saudi Arabia in combatting al Qaeda and [the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria]," McConnell said. "It would further convince the world that the United States is retreating ... from its commitments." 
But Murphy said that regardless of the failed vote, he hoped his colleagues would pay more attention the war inside Yemen, which he said had been a "quiet" war. 
"I also think there's very few of my colleagues who had given much thought to the war in Yemen," he said. 
"They may not be prepared to take a bigger step like stopping an arms sale, but maybe after today there's going to be a lot more senators that are willing to think about other ways in which we can reset the war inside Yemen."