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 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.) to block President TrumpDonald John TrumpUPS, FedEx shut down calls to handle mail-in ballots, warn of 'significant' problems: report Controversial GOP Georgia candidate attempts to distance from QAnon Trump orders TikTok parent company to sell US assets within 90 days 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) MenendezSenators ask for removal of tariffs on EU food, wine, spirits: report VOA visa decision could hobble Venezuela coverage Bottom line 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 McConnellMcGrath reshuffles campaign in home stretch to Senate election GOP senator draws fire from all sides on Biden, Obama-era probes Chris Wallace rips both parties for coronavirus package impasse: 'Pox on both their houses' MORE (Ky.), Armed Services Committee Chairman James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeLincoln Project expands GOP target list, winning Trump ire Trump's contempt for advice and consent Senate GOP divided over whether they'd fill Supreme Court vacancy  MORE (Okla.) and Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim RischJames (Jim) Elroy RischWhy the US should rely more on strategy, not sanctions Davis: The Hall of Shame for GOP senators who remain silent on Donald Trump Senators blast Turkey's move to convert Hagia Sophia back into a mosque 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 CottonTom Bryant CottonRussian news agency pushed video of Portland protestors burning a Bible: report Davis: The Hall of Shame for GOP senators who remain silent on Donald Trump China sanctioning Rubio, Cruz in retaliatory move over Hong Kong 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 PutinUN Security Council rejects US bid to extend Iran arms embargo Overnight Defense: US seizes Iranian fuel bound for Venezuela | Progressives cool on Biden's foreign policy | Takeaways from Israel, UAE opening diplomatic ties Has Congress captured Russia 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."