Senate poised to buck Trump on Saudi Arabia

The Senate is on the precipice of rebuking President TrumpDonald John Trump Former US ambassador: 'Denmark is not a big fan of Donald Trump and his politics' Senate Democrats push for arms control language in defense policy bill Detroit county sheriff endorses Booker for president MORE over the killing of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi, who along with other journalists was honored Tuesday as Time’s “Person of the Year.”

The Senate is expected to vote Wednesday on a resolution to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen. If successful, it would represent a significant shift for the Senate, which in March pigeonholed the same measure.


“I am optimistic that a bipartisan coalition of senators will vote to make clear that the United States will no longer support Saudi Arabia’s despotic regime in its incredibly destructive war,” Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSenate Democrats push for arms control language in defense policy bill Top adviser on Sanders: 'He's always been underestimated' 'The Simpsons' pokes fun at Trump's feud with 'the squad' MORE (I-Vt.) said on Tuesday.

The resolution, spearheaded by Sanders and Sens. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyHobbled NRA shows strength with Trump Overnight Defense: US, Russia tensions grow over nuclear arms | Highlights from Esper's Asia trip | Trump strikes neutral tone on Hong Kong protests | General orders ethics review of special forces White House eyes September action plan for gun proposals MORE (D-Conn.) and Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeMcConnell, allies lean into Twitter, media 'war' Conservatives buck Trump over worries of 'socialist' drug pricing Criminal justice reform should extend to student financial aid MORE (R-Utah), requires Trump to withdraw any troops in or “affecting” Yemen within 30 days unless they are fighting al Qaeda.

Because senators are bringing it up under the War Powers Act, they only need a simple majority to get it through the Senate. Supporters and opponents say they are confident it will have the votes to pass.

Aides say they expect the Senate to vote to begin debate on the measure on Wednesday afternoon. Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerTrump announces, endorses ambassador to Japan's Tennessee Senate bid Meet the key Senate player in GOP fight over Saudi Arabia Trump says he's 'very happy' some GOP senators have 'gone on to greener pastures' MORE (R-Tenn.), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is then expected to try to force any amendments to the resolution to be on topic.

The war powers fight is uncharted waters for the Senate, which has increasingly ceded war authority to the White House in recent decades. How they handle the Yemen effort could have lasting ramifications for future battles.

Unless there is a deal to keep amendments on-topic, some senators worry a series of unrelated measures could be raised and set a damaging precedent for the use of war powers resolutions going forward.

“If we proceed to the bill [and] then it’s subject to a vote-a-rama … I think there’s a bipartisan interest in avoiding that,” said Sen. John CornynJohn CornynThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump hews to NRA on guns and eyes lower taxes The Hill's Morning Report - Trump on defense over economic jitters Democrats keen to take on Cornyn despite formidable challenges MORE (Texas), the No. 2 Senate Republican.

Corker predicted that supporters of the Yemen resolution and “good governance” GOP senators would agree to limit amendments, preventing lawmakers from using the war fight to force votes on unrelated, and potentially controversial, pieces of legislation.

“There will be a whole lot of good government Republicans who don’t want to see the Senate turned into — on a War Powers Act — turned into a silly vote-a-thon,” he added.

Wednesday’s vote comes after 14 Republicans, including Corker, voted to kick the resolution out of the Foreign Relations Committee late last month.

Several of those senators, however, said they were advancing the measure to send a message to Saudi Arabia, not because of the substance of the measure.

Murphy said he is confident that all 49 Democrats will support the Yemen resolution, meaning only two GOP votes would be needed for passage.

Republicans are still crafting a separate resolution that they are hoping to bring up this week that would name the Saudi crown prince “responsible” for Khashoggi’s death.

Corker, who has been negotiating with GOP leadership, said he wanted to try to “rule 14” the resolution, which would allow it to skip over the committee process and go straight to the Senate calendar, where it would be available for a vote.

He said passage of the measure would send a strong U.S. signal of outrage to Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is believed by the U.S. intelligence community to have been behind the killing of Khashoggi on Oct. 2 at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

“A strong denouncing of a crown prince and holding them responsible for the murder of a journalist. It’s a pretty strong statement for the United States Senate to be making, assuming we can get a vote on it,” Corker told reporters this week.

Khashoggi and a number of other journalists, including two writers imprisoned in Myanmar and journalists at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Md., where a gunman killed five people earlier this year, were honored as “Guardians” by Time.

Time Editor-in-Chief Edward Felsenthal wrote that they were given the award “for taking great risks in pursuit of greater truths, for the imperfect but essential quest for facts that are central to civil discourse” and “for speaking up and for speaking out.”

Corker’s resolution comes as Republican leaders have grappled with how to respond to Khashoggi’s killing.

Passing either, or both, of the resolutions would mark a significant break with the White House for Republicans, though House GOP leadership has been noncommittal about moving a bill by the end of the year.

The House is expected to be briefed Thursday on Khashoggi’s death. Corker is hoping that an overwhelming vote for his Khashoggi-focused resolution would put pressure on the House to pass it this month.

Meanwhile, the House is expected to be briefed Thursday on Khashoggi’s death. A Democratic aide said Reps. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaKing incites furor with abortion, rape and incest remarks San Jose mayor proposes mandatory liability insurance for gun owners Democrats give cold shoulder to Warren wealth tax MORE (D-Calif.) and Thomas MassieThomas Harold MassieAirports already have plenty of infrastructure funding Overnight Defense: House votes to block Trump arms sales to Saudis, setting up likely veto | US officially kicks Turkey out of F-35 program | Pentagon sending 2,100 more troops to border House votes to block Trump's Saudi arms sale MORE (R-Ky.) “will be pushing for floor action by the end of the year” on a war powers resolution in the House.

Senators, as of Tuesday afternoon, were still scrambling over a potential agreement to let the Foreign Relations Committee mark up a broader bill from Sens. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezPelosi warns Mnuchin to stop 'illegal' .3B cut to foreign aid House passes temporary immigration protections for Venezuelans Senate panel advances bipartisan bill to lower drug prices amid GOP blowback MORE (D-N.J.) and Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungOvernight Defense: Senate fails to override Trump veto on Saudi arms sales | Two US troops killed in Afghanistan | Senators tee up nominations, budget deal ahead of recess Senate fails to override Trump veto on Saudi arms sale GOP chairman yanks Saudi bill after Democrats muscle through tougher language MORE (R-Ind.) that 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. The amendment would also suspend weapons sales to Saudi Arabia.

Corker said he has also requested that the bill be amended to include a one-year suspension of arms sales to Saudi Arabia instead of a two-year suspension.

The Tennessee Republican said he and Menendez are still negotiating, but he wasn’t optimistic about a deal.

“I had high hopes this morning,” he told The Hill. “Not so much now.”