Buttigieg: US should consider 'putting the brakes' on Saudi relationship

Buttigieg: US should consider 'putting the brakes' on Saudi relationship
© Greg Nash

Democratic presidential candidate Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegDemocratic strategist predicts most 2020 candidates will drop out in late fall The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump hits media over 'send her back' coverage The Hill's Campaign Report: Second debate lineups set up high-profile clash MORE (D) said Sunday that the U.S. should reconsider its relationship with Saudi Arabia and “consider putting the brakes” on it.

Citing issues such as the execution of dissidents and the killing of U.S. resident and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, the South Bend, Ind., Mayor said such activity is “wrong on either side of the gulf” on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday.

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“We have a close relationship in many regards,” Buttigieg said. “We should consider putting the brakes on that relationship at a moment when, again, our values are being called into question because the president seems to think that a pending arms deal is more important than speaking up about the fact that an American resident, a journalist, was killed and dismembered.”

Buttigieg added that while “no two countries are the same,” the U.S. must “especially when we're talking about an ally where we might have some leverage … stand up for human rights and the things we believe in as a country.”

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump telling aides to look at potential spending cuts if he wins reelection: report Budget talks between White House, Pelosi spill into weekend Trump says he won't watch Mueller testimony MORE (D-Calif.) last Thursday vowed that President TrumpDonald John TrumpUS-Saudi Arabia policy needs a dose of 'realpolitik' Trump talks to Swedish leader about rapper A$AP Rocky, offers to vouch for his bail Matt Gaetz ahead of Mueller hearing: 'We are going to reelect the president' MORE would have a fight on his hands as he presses to realize a sweeping arms sale to Saudi Arabia.

Pelosi said in New York that the House would soon vote to block the transfer of weapons to Riyadh, which the administration says is vital to protecting U.S. interests in the region amid escalating tensions with Iran.

"There will be a vote to remove any authority to make those sales to Saudi Arabia," Pelosi said. "This is something that we will fight, and we'll have bipartisan support to fight."

Her comments came a day after Senate opponents of the deal secured the 51 votes needed to block the transfer in the upper chamber.

It's unlikely, however, that either chamber could find the two-thirds majority needed to override a presidential veto, as was the case last month when the Senate failed to override Trump's veto of increased military assistance to Yemen.

Opponents of the weapons deal are wary of granting any new assistance to Saudi Arabia in light of Riyadh's involvement in the civil war in Yemen, which has killed countless thousands of civilians and created a dire humanitarian crisis.

They're also loath to help the same Saudi leaders who, according to the CIA, ordered the assassination and dismemberment of Khashoggi.