McConnell leans into impeachment fight
Senate to vote Thursday to block Trump's Saudi arms deal
The Senate will vote Thursday to block President Trump's controversial arms sales to Saudi Arabia, paving the way for a showdown with the White House.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said the Senate will hold three votes on the 22 sales that would also send weapons to the United Arab Emirates and Jordan. Two standalone votes will be on resolutions to block sales to Saudi Arabia. Senators would then have a third vote that would condense the remaining 20 resolutions of disapproval into one vote.
The resolutions blocking Trump's arms sales are anticipated to be able to pass the Senate, where they only need a simple majority. At least four Republicans are expected to vote with all 47 Democrats to block the arms deal.
House Democrats have also pledged to block the sales, setting the stage for a massive veto showdown with Trump. Neither chamber is expected to have the votes to override the vetoes.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) pointed to the bipartisan opposition to the arms sales as a sign of "coalition building" in Congress to check an administration's foreign policy authority.
"I think the votes going to be significant - well over 50 but possibly over 60 and even with a potential of getting a veto-proof," Paul told reporters.
The unprecedented move to block the sales reflects growing frustration on Capitol Hill about the U.S.-Saudi relationship and would come after two votes fell short in recent years to block arms deals with Saudi Arabia. One, in 2016, garnered support from only 27 senators. The other, in June 2017, had the backing of 47 senators.
Since then, U.S.-Saudi relations have soured further amid growing concerns about Saudi Arabia's involvement in the years-long Yemen civil war and the death of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.
Trump sparked bipartisan backlash when he invoked an emergency provision under the Arms Export Control Act to push through the sales without a congressional review period.
The administration has cited a heightened threat from Iran as its justification for invoking the emergency sales."These sales and the associated emergency certification are intended to address the military need of our partners in the face of an urgent regional threat posed by Iran; promote the vitality of our bilateral relationships by reassuring our partners; and preserve strategic advantage against near-peer competitors," R. Clarke Cooper, the assistant secretary of State for political-military affairs, told members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee last week.