Yemen resolution picks up crucial support in Senate

Yemen resolution picks up crucial support in Senate
© Getty Images

A resolution that would force President TrumpDonald John TrumpOklahoma City Thunder players kneel during anthem despite threat from GOP state lawmaker Microsoft moving forward with talks to buy TikTok after conversation with Trump Controversial Trump nominee placed in senior role after nomination hearing canceled MORE to end U.S. support for Saudi Arabia's military actions in Yemen is picking up support even after top administration officials lobbied against the measure during a closed-door briefing. 

Multiple senators who previously voted against the same resolution in March emerged from the meeting saying they would support taking it up this time, underscoring the growing frustration with the Saudi government on Capitol Hill. 

Sen. Christopher CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsCoronavirus Report: The Hill's Steve Clemons interviews Thomas Isett Coronavirus Report: The Hill's Steve Clemons interviews Dr. Kate Broderick Making vulnerable children a priority in the pandemic response MORE (D-Del.) said he would support the resolution, saying he was dissatisfied by the briefing and calling it a "significant mistake" not to send CIA Director Gina Haspel.

"I think it is more important that the United States continue to demonstrate to the world that we value a free press, that we hold our close allies to high standards and that we will continue to stand for the basic values that define the United States," Coons said. 

Sens. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeCheney clashes with Trump Sessions-Tuberville Senate runoff heats up in Alabama GOP lawmakers stick to Trump amid new criticism MORE (R-Ariz.), Catherine Cortez MastoCatherine Marie Cortez MastoMajor Hispanic group launches support of 'milestone' Latina candidates The robbing of a wildlife refuge in Nevada Senators press IRS chief on stimulus check pitfalls MORE (D-Nev.) and Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezVOA visa decision could hobble Venezuela coverage Bottom line Koch-backed group urges Senate to oppose 'bailouts' of states in new ads MORE (D-N.J.) also said they would vote in favor of the resolution. Like Coons, they each voted to table the same resolution in March.

ADVERTISEMENT


Menendez called Haspel's absence a "cover-up" and "outrageous," arguing the chamber was being stonewalled. 

"I heard nothing convincing as it relates to why we would not proceed with the Sanders-Lee and others resolution," he said, referring to Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersGOP lawmaker: Democratic Party 'used to be more moderate' 4 reasons why Trump can't be written off — yet Progressives lost the battle for the Democratic Party's soul MORE (I-Vt.) and Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeTea Party rises up against McConnell's trillion relief plan Hillicon Valley: Twitter bans thousands of QAnon accounts | Bipartisan support grows for election funds in Senate stimulus bill | Senate committee advances bill to ban TikTok from federal devices Senators demand answers on expired surveillance programs MORE (R-Utah), two sponsors of the bill. 

The growing support for the resolution is a blow to the administration, which has launched an eleventh-hour effort to squash the resolution. 

Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisTrump prizes loyalty over competence — we are seeing the results Lawmakers torch Trump plan to pull 11,900 troops from Germany Are US-Japan relations on the rocks? MORE and Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoGOP scrambles to fend off Kobach in Kansas primary Pompeo: Trump taking action on Chinese software firms 'in coming days' Navarro: 'Don't fall for' message from TikTok lobbyists, 'puppet CEO' MORE spoke with senators during a briefing Wednesday, warning that if the Senate moved forward with the resolution it would undercut negotiations with Saudi Arabia. 

"I know all too well the difficulty in reconciling human aspirations with war's grim reality; but I also recognize that we cannot limit civilian casualties or advance the peace effort commencing early next month in Sweden by disengaging," Mattis said, according to prepared remarks.

The resolution would require Trump to pull all troops in or “affecting” Yemen within 30 days. It’s expected to get an initial vote as soon as Wednesday afternoon. 

Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyConnecticut senators call for Subway to ban open carry of firearms Democrats optimistic about chances of winning Senate Gridlock mires chances of police reform deal MORE (D-Conn.), another sponsor of the resolution, stopped short of predicting success but argued the administration’s briefing didn’t win over any concerned senators. 

"I'm more confident after that briefing that we have the votes," Murphy told reporters.

The same resolution fell six votes short in March. The support coming out of the briefing, as well as Sen. Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedControversial Trump nominee placed in senior role after nomination hearing canceled Overnight Defense: Pompeo pressed on move to pull troops from Germany | Panel abruptly scraps confirmation hearing | Trump meets family of slain soldier Senate panel scraps confirmation hearing for controversial Pentagon nominee at last minute MORE’s (D-R.I.) announcement on Tuesday night that he will support the bill puts the resolution on the precipice of having enough votes to at least be brought up on the floor.

Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerCheney clashes with Trump Sessions-Tuberville Senate runoff heats up in Alabama GOP lawmakers stick to Trump amid new criticism MORE (R-Tenn.), the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman, predicted that, absent action from the administration, the Senate would vote to take up the resolution in part because it's amendable, meaning senators could change it on the Senate floor.

"The Yemen resolution is amendable. so the first vote is just to get on it," he told reporters. "We're very likely to support a vehicle that allows us to somehow or another address this."