Rand Paul vows to force vote on Saudi arms sales over missing journalist

Rand Paul vows to force vote on Saudi arms sales over missing journalist
© Greg Nash

GOP Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulGOP presses Trump to make a deal on spending House Freedom Caucus votes to condemn Amash's impeachment comments Bolton emerges as flashpoint in GOP debate on Iran MORE (Ky.) on Tuesday vowed to force a vote on U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia after the disappearance of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi.

"If they're responsible or even if there's any indication that they're implicated in killing this journalist that was critical of them, we've got to stop sending them arms," Paul told WHAS, a Kentucky radio station.

He added that he will be "forcing votes," saying that while support for Saudi Arabia has been a point of disagreement between him and President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report - White House, Congress: Urgency of now around budget GOP presses Trump to make a deal on spending Democrats wary of handing Trump a win on infrastructure MORE, "the president may come around on this if there is any evidence they killed this journalist."

The administration hasn't notified Congress of any arms sales to Saudi Arabia since Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezEnding the Cyprus arms embargo will increase tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean We can accelerate a cure for Alzheimer's The Hill's 12:30 Report: Manafort sentenced to total of 7.5 years in prison MORE (N.J.), the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, said he was placing a hold to block the sales over concerns about the country's involvement in Yemen's civil war.

Paul told the Kentucky radio station that his plan is to force a vote the next time the administration notifies Congress of a planned sale. The administration is required to give Congress a 30-day notice for arms sales.

Paul could force a vote on a future arms sale under the Arms Export Control Act. He could bring the measure to the Senate floor after giving the Senate Foreign Relations Committee 10 days to consider it.

Turkish police sources told Reuters that they believe Khashoggi was murdered sometime after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week. Saudi Arabia has denied wrongdoing, saying that Khashoggi left the consulate.

The United States has provided support for the Saudi campaign in Yemen's years-long civil war, including U.S. military advisers helping Saudi forces target enemies in Yemen and having U.S. planes refueling Saudi-led bombers on combat missions.

Senators have signaled growing concerns over the number of civilian casualties, but have so far been unable to block an arms sale.

The chamber voted to table a resolution in March that would require Trump to withdraw any troops in “or affecting" Yemen within 30 days unless they are fighting al Qaeda. The Senate also rejected a 2017 resolution that would have blocked part of President Trump’s $110 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia.

Updated at 1:41 p.m.