Senate poised to buck Trump on Saudi Arabia

The Senate is on the precipice of rebuking President TrumpDonald John TrumpPapadopoulos claims he was pressured to sign plea deal Tlaib asking colleagues to support impeachment investigation resolution Trump rips 'Mainstream Media': 'They truly are the Enemy of the People' 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

“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 SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersHere's why Biden, Bernie and Beto are peaking Senate gears up for Green New Deal vote Overnight Energy: Green New Deal vote set to test Dem unity | Renewables on track to phase out coal, study finds | EPA chief reportedly recuses himself from mine review MORE (I-Vt.) said on Tuesday.

The resolution, spearheaded by Sanders and Sens. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyFather of Sandy Hook victim dies in apparent suicide Sanders: 'We must follow New Zealand's lead' and ban assault weapons The fear of colorectal cancer as a springboard for change MORE (D-Conn.) and Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeSenate GOP proposes constitutional amendment to keep Supreme Court at 9 seats Stop asking parents to sacrifice Social Security benefits for paid family leave The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump hits media over New Zealand coverage 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 keeps tight grip on GOP Brexit and exit: A transatlantic comparison Sasse’s jabs at Trump spark talk of primary challenger 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 CornynConservatives wage assault on Mueller report Senate GOP poised to go 'nuclear' on Trump picks GOP rep to introduce constitutional amendment to limit Supreme Court seats to 9 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) KhannaDem lawmaker confident majority of Mueller report will be released to public House Oversight Dem wants Trump to release taxes and 'get it over with' Booker takes early lead in 2020 endorsements MORE (D-Calif.) and Thomas MassieThomas Harold MassieThe 25 Republicans who defied Trump on emergency declaration Trump: I told Republicans to vote for 'transparency' in releasing Mueller report House votes for Mueller report to be made public 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) MenendezThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Manafort sentenced to total of 7.5 years in prison Acting Defense chief calls Graham an 'ally' after tense exchange William Barr is right man for the times MORE (D-N.J.) and Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungSenate GOP proposes constitutional amendment to keep Supreme Court at 9 seats Trump UN pick donated to GOP members on Senate Foreign Relations panel Overnight Defense: Senate breaks with Trump on Yemen war | Shanahan hit with ethics complaint over Boeing ties | Pentagon rolls out order to implement transgender ban | Dem chair throws cold water on Space Force budget 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.”