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 PaulOvernight Defense: Pompeo blames Iran for oil tanker attacks | House panel approves 3B defense bill | Trump shares designs for red, white and blue Air Force One Senate rejects effort to block Trump's Qatar, Bahrain arms sales Senate rejects effort to block Trump's Qatar, Bahrain arms sales MORE (R-Ky.) to block President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says 'Failing New York Times' should be held 'fully accountable' over Russia report Trump says 'Failing New York Times' should be held 'fully accountable' over Russia report Trump tweets ICE will begin removing 'millions' of undocumented migrants 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) MenendezThere is a severe physician shortage and it will only worsen Democrats ask Fed to probe Trump's Deutsche Bank ties Ending the Cyprus arms embargo will increase tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean 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 McConnellJon Stewart rips into McConnell for saying he's 'bent out of shape' over 9/11 victim fund Jon Stewart rips into McConnell for saying he's 'bent out of shape' over 9/11 victim fund Tensions with Iran reach new stage over uranium threat MORE (Ky.), Armed Services Committee Chairman James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeSenate rejects effort to block Trump's Qatar, Bahrain arms sales Senate rejects effort to block Trump's Qatar, Bahrain arms sales Shanahan: 'No concerns' about FBI background check for nomination MORE (Okla.) and Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim RischJames (Jim) Elroy RischUN nominee Kelly Craft to face confirmation hearing Wednesday UN nominee Kelly Craft to face confirmation hearing Wednesday Senate rejects effort to block Trump's Qatar, Bahrain arms sales 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 CottonOvernight Defense: US to send 1K more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions | Iran threatens to break limit on uranium production in 10 days | US accuses Iran of 'nuclear blackmail' | Details on key defense bill amendments Overnight Defense: US to send 1K more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions | Iran threatens to break limit on uranium production in 10 days | US accuses Iran of 'nuclear blackmail' | Details on key defense bill amendments Iran announces it will exceed uranium stockpile restraints of nuclear deal 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 PutinTurkey and Russia are not friends, despite appearances O'Rourke: Trump 'made a mess of our foreign policy' O'Rourke: Trump 'made a mess of our foreign policy' 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."