Senate to vote on blocking Trump's Saudi arms deal as soon as this week

Senate to vote on blocking Trump's Saudi arms deal as soon as this week
© Greg Nash

Senators are paving the way to block President TrumpDonald John TrumpLiz Cheney: 'Send her back' chant 'inappropriate' but not about race, gender Booker: Trump is 'worse than a racist' Top Democrat insists country hasn't moved on from Mueller MORE’s arms deal with Saudi Arabia as soon as this week. 

Senate leadership and supporters of blocking the arms sale are in negotiations aimed at getting a deal on how and when the resolutions of disapproval will be brought to the Senate floor. 

Without an agreement each resolution is subjected to up to 10 hours of debate, which would eat up the Senate’s schedule. 

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Senators are using a provision of the Arms Export Control Act to block the 22 sales by only a simple majority after Trump last month invoked an emergency provision within the law to push through the roughly $8 billion sale without congressional approval. With at least four Republicans expected to join all 47 Democrats in supporting the resolutions of disapproval, the Senate is expected to have the votes to block the arms sale and force Trump to issue a veto.

“Everybody would like to get to a UC,” said Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyThe Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Health care moves to center stage of Democratic primary fight | Sanders, Biden trade sharps jabs on Medicare for All | Senate to vote on 9/11 bill next week | Buttigieg pushes for cheaper insulin Health care moves to center stage in Democratic primary fight MORE (D-Conn.), referring to a unanimous consent agreement that would set a streamlined process for the Senate’s floor votes.

Murphy said they were aiming to hold votes this week even with a mammoth defense bill and a slate of nominations already on the schedule. 

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) started the clock on one of the 22 resolutions of disapproval on the Senate floor Tuesday. Lawmakers have a 30-day window to take action, giving them until they leave for the July 4 recess. 

“This resolution that I have just asked for the discharge of would disapprove the administration’s proposed sale of precision guided munitions to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, weapons they have used in the killing of untold numbers of innocent civilians in their ongoing campaign in Yemen,” Menendez said from the Senate floor. 

The 22 sales, which will also send weapons to the United Arab Emirates and Jordan, include precision-guided bombs, Patriot missiles, mortar rounds, drones, fighter jet parts and other military support.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell challenger faces tougher path after rocky launch Funding a strong defense of our nation's democratic process can't wait The Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants MORE (R-Ky.) tipped his hand to the looming votes during a floor speech on Tuesday, noting that the Senate would be having Iran-related votes. The administration argued that the sales are needed to counter Iran’s influence.

“For our part, the Senate will consider several measures in the coming days that will directly impact our presence and influence in this troubled region, including arms sales to key regional partners and the NDAA,” McConnell said.