House Democrats introduce measures to oppose Trump’s bomb sale to Saudis

Greg Nash

House Democrats on Friday introduced resolutions opposing the Trump administration’s sale of millions of dollars of precision-guided bombs to Saudi Arabia.

Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, introduced measures expressing congressional opposition to the sale over the kingdom’s role in Yemen’s brutal civil war, which has sparked the worst humanitarian crisis in modern history.

“There is no justification for the Trump administration’s decision to rush through the sale of thousands of bombs to Saudi Arabia—especially after last year’s sham ‘emergency’ sale of 60,000 munitions,” Meeks said in a statement, referencing a 2019 “emergency” arms sale to the Saudis that Democrats allege circumvented congressional oversight.

“Yemen has already been described by the UN as the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, and that crisis is worsened when weapons sold by the United States are being used recklessly, costing the lives of civilians,” he added. “I strongly support the incoming Biden administration’s pledge to conduct a thorough policy review.”

The resolutions of disapproval were co-sponsored by Reps. Gerald Connolly (D-Va.), Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and James McGovern (D-Mass.).

The Trump administration most recently approved a $290 million sale to Riyadh for 3,000 Boeing-made GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb I (SDB I) munitions and related equipment. The approval followed another greenlight for Raytheon to directly sell Saudi Arabia 7,500 of its Paveway air-to-ground “smart” bombs at an estimated value of $478 million. 

The government’s notice on Dec. 29 of the $290 million sale started a 30-day countdown during which lawmakers can block the sale if they choose to, setting the deadline in the early days of the upcoming Biden administration. President-elect Joe Biden has said he will conduct an overview of Washington’s relationship with Riyadh, which has come under scrutiny.

Arms sales to Saudi Arabia in particular has been a point of contention between the White House and lawmakers of both parties who have been increasingly vocal in their opposition to arming Riyadh.

Thousands of civilians have been killed in Yemen’s civil war, which is largely being waged by Saudi Arabia and its proxy forces against Houthi rebels, and lawmakers remain disgruntled over the Saudi-sanctioned killing of U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018 in Turkey.

However, President Trump has brushed off criticism from Congress, arguing that arming Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states is a key part of his plan to counter Iranian influence in the Middle East.

Tags Barbara Lee Donald Trump Gregory Meeks Jamal Khashoggi James McGovern Joe Biden Ro Khanna Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia–United States relations Ted Deutch Ted Lieu Yemeni Crisis
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