Congress digs in for prolonged Saudi battle

The brewing fight between President TrumpDonald John TrumpNASA exec leading moon mission quits weeks after appointment The Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan Frustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' MORE and Congress over Saudi Arabia is poised to spill over into next year.

The U.S.-Saudi relationship has emerged as a point of contention between both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue in the wake of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, with a growing number of senators convinced that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is responsible for the journalist’s death.

The Senate is prepared to defy Trump this week with a vote on a resolution aimed at ending U.S. support for the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen, with both supporters and opponents predicting it has enough backing to pass.

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But with only days left before lawmakers wrap up their work for the year, some senators are already turning their attention to reviving the fight in the new year.

Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyFrustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' Overnight Defense: Details on Senate's 0B defense bill | Bill rejects Trump plan to skirt budget caps | Backfills money for border wall | Defense chief says more troops could head to Mideast Dem senator plans amendment to restrict military action against Iran MORE (D-Conn.) said that holding a vote this week is “a strong enough signal to the Saudis and a signal that we’re going to come back and finish it off next year.”

“The underlying resolution would still have privilege next year, and so if it passes this year it will likely pass again next year,” he added.

Murphy, along with Sens. Bernie SandersBernie Sanders2020 Democrats join striking McDonald's workers Billionaire's M gift to Morehouse grads points way to student debt solution Poll: Nearly half of Clinton's former supporters back Biden MORE (I-Vt.) and Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeOn The Money: Senate passes disaster aid bill after deal with Trump | Trump to offer B aid package for farmers | House votes to boost retirement savings | Study says new tariffs to double costs for consumers Senate passes disaster aid bill after deal with Trump Hillicon Valley: Google delays cutting off Huawei | GOP senators split over breaking up big tech | Report finds DNC lagging behind RNC on cybersecurity MORE (R-Utah), is sponsoring the resolution, which would require Trump to withdraw troops in or “affecting” Yemen within 30 days unless they are fighting al Qaeda. Because the senators are bringing up the resolution under the War Powers Act, they need only a simple majority to pass it and would be able to quickly force it to the floor again next year.

In addition to the Yemen resolution, senators are expecting a wide-ranging bill from Sens. 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 (D-N.J.) and Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungBipartisan senators unveil measure to end surprise medical bills Pence, McConnell eulogize Sen. Richard Lugar On The Money: GOP angst grows over Trump's trade war | Trump promises help for 'Patriot Farmers' | Markets rebound | CBO founding director Alice Rivlin dies | Senate to vote on disaster aid bill next week MORE (R-Ind.) to spill over into 2019. That measure would require sanctions within 30 days on anyone involved in Khashoggi’s death, including “any official of the government of Saudi Arabia or member of the royal family” determined to be involved.

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It also would require a report within 30 days on the kingdom’s human rights record. And to help address the Yemen crisis, the legislation would suspend U.S. weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and prohibit the U.S. military from refueling Saudi coalition aircraft.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerJeff Daniels blasts 'cowardice' of Senate Republicans against Trump Corker: 'I just don't' see path to challenge Trump in 2020 Ex-GOP Sen. Corker: Trump primary would be 'good thing for our country' MORE (R-Tenn.) is hoping to hold a markup on the Menendez-Young bill early this week, though it hasn’t been formally announced. The meeting would allow the committee — which has members spanning the foreign policy spectrum — to work through any amendments and get it prepped for an eventual vote on the Senate floor.

Corker said it was “possible,” but unlikely, that the Senate is able to tackle that broader bill this year.

“Honestly, knowing the way things work … the Menendez-Young effort is one that probably continues into next year, in all likelihood,” Corker, who is retiring in January, told reporters this past week.

He added that it would send “a really strong signal” to move all three measures, both at a committee level and on the floor, even if senators have to revive the bills when the next Congress starts in January.

“It’s not like it’s going away,” Corker said. “It’s going to be brought back up next year, and you know the House is going to bring it up.”

Because the Senate is expected to vote to limit amendments during on the Yemen resolution, the Menendez-Young bill, as well as a separate resolution condemning Khashoggi’s killing, are unlikely to be brought up as part of the floor debate.

But supporters of those two bills argue they could use the remaining weeks of the year to create a solid starting point for 2019.

“It can start this year, but if nothing else if we could just roll out a new product that gets 60 co-sponsors that would be a good place to start,” said Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamNew Yorker cover titled 'The Shining' shows Graham, McConnell, Barr polishing Trump's shoes Graham: 'US must be willing to intervene in Venezuela' Trump Jr. slams Republican committee chairman: 'Too weak to stand up to the Democrats' MORE (R-S.C.), who is co-sponsoring the bill. “It’s a product that becomes your jumping-off point for next year.”

House Democrats, meanwhile, are planning to launch their own Saudi-crackdown efforts when they regain the majority in January, ensuring Trump’s foreign policy headaches continue into next year.

The House is expected to get briefed on Khashoggi and Yemen this week, which House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiThe Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan Frustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' Trump-Pelosi fight threatens drug pricing talks MORE (D-Calif.) said could help solidify a legislative path forward.

Pelosi, when asked what House Democrats would do, pointed to legislation to end arms sales to Saudi Arabia and a resolution, similar to the Senate measure, that would end U.S. support for the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen.

“There are pieces of that that exist in different legislation,” she told reporters during a weekly press conference.

One potential stumbling block for challenging Trump on Saudi Arabia next year is Sen. Jim RischJames (Jim) Elroy RischOn The Money: Senate passes disaster aid bill after deal with Trump | Trump to offer B aid package for farmers | House votes to boost retirement savings | Study says new tariffs to double costs for consumers Senate passes disaster aid bill after deal with Trump Overnight Defense: Iran worries dominate foreign policy talk | Pentagon reportedly to send WH plans for 10K troops in Mideast | Democrats warn Trump may push through Saudi arms sale | Lawmakers blast new Pentagon policy on sharing info MORE (R-Idaho), who is expected to succeed Corker as Foreign Relations Committee chairman. Risch, unlike Corker, is viewed as more of a Trump loyalist who would be unlikely to confront the president.

Supporters of Saudi-related legislation could try to leapfrog Risch by requesting their bill be put directly on the Senate calendar, which would allow leadership to bring it up for floor action. But for now they are navigating around questions about how they think Risch will handle the issue next year.

"I don't know. I'm not going to prejudge his priorities," Murphy said.