Senate rejects effort to block Trump's Qatar, Bahrain arms sales
© Greg Nash

The Senate rejected an effort on Thursday by Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulGraham promises ObamaCare repeal if Trump, Republicans win in 2020 Conservatives buck Trump over worries of 'socialist' drug pricing Rand Paul to 'limit' August activities due to health MORE (R-Ky.) to block President TrumpDonald John TrumpFacebook releases audit on conservative bias claims Harry Reid: 'Decriminalizing border crossings is not something that should be at the top of the list' Recessions happen when presidents overlook key problems MORE's arms sales to Bahrain and Qatar.

Senators voted 43-56 on discharging a resolution to block the Bahrain arms sale out of the Foreign Relations Committee. They voted 42-57 on moving the Qatar arms deal out of the committee, with both falling short of the simple majority needed to bring the resolutions to the Senate floor.

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Paul's resolutions, if passed by Congress, would have blocked a $750 million sale to Bahrain of missiles and other equipment tied an aircraft fleet, and a $3 billion sale to Qatar of Apache attack helicopters and related equipment. 

Paul argued ahead of the votes that it was "mistake to funnel arms into these century-old conflicts" and that the votes were about "the wisdom of proliferating arms in the Middle East." 

"There is a great danger … if we keep funneling arms in there and fueling the arms race that the powder keg will blow up," he added. 

Paul added that U.S. weapons that have been given to Qatar have, in turn, been sent "to our enemies and then we send soldiers to the Middle East to fight against our own weapons." 

Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezPelosi warns Mnuchin to stop 'illegal' .3B cut to foreign aid House passes temporary immigration protections for Venezuelans Senate panel advances bipartisan bill to lower drug prices amid GOP blowback MORE (N.J.), the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, said he supported the arms sales but was voting to move the resolutions out of the panel because he supported Paul's "right to seek full consideration of them by the Senate." 

"Reviewing and approving arms sales across the world is a core function of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. It is an integral exercise of congressional oversight of the executive branch, and it is legally mandated," Menendez added. 

But top Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellPelosi, Schumer press for gun screenings as Trump inches away The malware election: Returning to paper ballots only way to prevent hacking First House Republican backs bill banning assault weapons MORE (Ky.), Armed Services Committee Chairman James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeDemocrats, environmentalists blast Trump rollback of endangered species protections Bottom Line Overnight Defense: Dems talk Afghanistan, nukes at Detroit debate | Senate panel advances Hyten nomination | Iranian foreign minister hit with sanctions | Senate confirms UN ambassador MORE (Okla.) and Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim RischJames (Jim) Elroy RischTrump moves forward with F-16 sale to Taiwan opposed by China Overnight Defense: US exits landmark arms control treaty with Russia | Pentagon vows to 'fully pursue' once-banned missiles | Ratcliffe out as intel pick | Trump signs budget deal that boosts defense | Trump defends North Korea's Kim as 'friend' The 23 Republicans who opposed Trump-backed budget deal MORE (Idaho), spoke out against the resolutions ahead of the votes. 

Inhofe said frustrations over Saudi Arabia were a separate issue and that the two votes on Thursday were about keeping commitments to U.S. allies. 

"Through these arms sales we can improve operations … and help our partners defend themselves and American troops in the region," Inhofe said. "And I really get concerned when things like this come up because what does the rest of the world say when we treat our allies this way and we renege on a commitment we've made?"

Sen. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonCotton warns China: Crackdown on Hong Kong would be 'grave miscalculation' Congress must address gender gap in nominations to military service academies GOP senators press Google on reports it developed a smart speaker with Huawei MORE (R-Ark.) added that voting for the resolutions to block the arms sales would "embolden our adversaries." 

"Make no mistake, the ayatollah, Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump on defense over economic jitters Can we do business with Kim Jong Un? Leadership analysis might give clues Russian defense minister: 'We won't do anything' in Europe unless US places missiles there MORE and Xi Jinping are watching these votes," he added. "For those of you undecided, I would ask you to consider how those men would want you to vote."