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Lawmakers seek to limit US involvement in Yemen's civil war

Lawmakers seek to limit US involvement in Yemen's civil war
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Lawmakers in the House are looking to restrain U.S. support for the Saudi-led military campaign in the Yemen civil war in an annual defense policy bill, so far filing at least nine amendments with that aim.

Lawmakers in both chambers of Congress have grown increasingly frustrated with Saudi Arabia in its campaign against the Houthi rebels. The civilian death toll in the conflict has been rising, with most of the casualties blamed on Saudi airstrikes.

The United States supports the Saudi campaign with billions of dollars in arms sales, intelligence sharing and logistics such as air refueling. The New York Times also reported this month that Army Green Berets are at Saudi Arabia’s border helping find and destroy Houthi missile launchers.

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Late last year, the House passed a nonbinding resolution that called U.S. military involvement in the war unauthorized.

Earlier this year, the Senate blocked a resolution that would have ended U.S. military support for the campaign, though the vote margin was narrower than expected.

Rep. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaDemocrats shift tone on unemployment benefits Khanna outlines how progressives will push in climate infrastructure proposal Fresh hurdles push timeline on getting China bill to Biden MORE (D-Calif.), who led the charge for the House’s resolution last year, has filed three amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act related to Yemen.

Khanna also introduced an amendment to limit U.S. support for the campaign during the House Armed Services Committee’s markup of the bill last week, but it was defeated in a 19-42 vote.

One amendment Khanna offered this week would require the Pentagon to issue a declassified report on the civil war’s effect on the growth of Yemen’s branches of al Qaeda and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

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Another would prevent funding from being used to refuel non-U.S. military aircraft for missions targeting the Houthis.

The third would require an investigation into whether U.S. military personnel, intelligence operatives or coalition partners violated federal law, the laws of armed conflict or Pentagon policy while conducting operations in Yemen.

Khanna also signed on to an amendment from Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) on any mid-air refueling the U.S. military has done for any non-U.S. aircraft in anti-Houthi missions. Rep. Mark PocanMark William PocanThe Memo: The pre-Trump 'normal' is gone for good Overnight Defense: Pentagon pitches 5B budget | Kamala Harris addresses US Naval Academy graduates Pentagon pitches 5B budget with cuts to older weapons MORE (D-Wis.) is also a co-sponsor.

Pocan also filed two amendments. One would require a report within 120 days on all activities conducted by members of the military and civilian Pentagon personnel that help Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates against the Houthis.

Pocan’s other amendment, co-sponsored by Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashAmash warns of turning lawmakers like Cheney into 'heroes' Cheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP Biden: 'Prince Philip gladly dedicated himself to the people of the UK' MORE (R-Mich.), bans precision guided munitions from being sent to Saudi Arabia until the United States “has withdrawn from all forms of participation” in the Yemen civil war that “are not specifically and statutorily authorized by Congress.”

Another amendment, from Reps. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Ted YohoTheodore (Ted) Scott YohoOcasio-Cortez on Taylor Greene: 'These are the kinds of people that I threw out of bars all the time' Ocasio-Cortez: 'No consequences' in GOP for violence, racism 7 surprise moments from a tumultuous year in politics MORE (R-Fla.), would require the Pentagon to certify to Congress that Saudi Arabia is making a “good-faith effort” on diplomatic negotiations, is not blocking humanitarian aid, is not arming Salafi militias and is providing the United States plans and damage assessments on strikes in which the U.S. military refueled aircraft.

Rep. Rick NolanRichard (Rick) Michael NolanMinnesota Rep. Pete Stauber glides to victory in GOP primary Hold off on anti-mining hysteria until the facts are in Minnesota New Members 2019 MORE (D-Minn.) proposed an amendment that would prohibit funding from being used to participate in the civil war.

An amendment from Rep. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalDemocrats shift tone on unemployment benefits Pelosi picks Democrats for special panel tackling inequality White House to Democrats: Get ready to go it alone on infrastructure MORE (D-Wash.) would prohibit funding from being used to assist the Saudi campaign until the Pentagon certifies to Congress that Yemen’s Hodeida port is completely open to aid and the commercial flow of food, fuel and medicine.

The House Rules Committee is set to meet Monday and Tuesday to determine which amendments will get a floor vote, with the House expected to take up the National Defense Authorization Act later in the week.