Dems plan resolution to withdraw US forces from Yemen civil war

Dems plan resolution to withdraw US forces from Yemen civil war
© Getty Images

A group of House Democrats wants to force a vote to withdraw U.S. forces from the civil war in Yemen, the lawmakers announced on Thursday.

They said that they will introduce a so-called privileged resolution this month if the situation in the war-battered country does not improve that would withdraw the U.S. military from helping the Saudi Arabia-led coalition fighting Yemeni rebels.

“We are preparing to introduce a new, privileged resolution in September invoking the War Powers Resolution of 1973 to withdraw U.S. Armed Forces from engaging in the Saudi-led coalition’s conflict with the Houthis should additional escalations continue and progress fail to be made towards a peace agreement,” the lawmakers said in a joint statement.

“There has been no specific authorization for the U.S. Armed Forces to engage in hostilities with respect to the conflict between the Saudi-led coalition and the Houthis in Yemen. We must take action to end U.S. participation in this catastrophic war in Yemen and work to bring about a peaceful conclusion to this conflict.”

The effort is being led by Rep. 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.), who previously led the charge for a House-passed nonbinding resolution that called U.S. military involvement in the war unauthorized.

The statement was co-signed by Rep. Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithWarren's pledge to avoid first nuclear strike sparks intense pushback Landmark US-Russia arms control treaty poised for final blow Young Democrats look to replicate Ocasio-Cortez's primary path MORE (D-Wash.), the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee; Rep. Mark PocanMark William PocanOmar says US should reconsider aid to Israel Trump crosses new line with Omar, Tlaib, Israel move Liberal Democrat eyes aid cuts to Israel after Omar, Tlaib denied entry MORE (D-Wis.), a co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus; and Democratic Reps. Jim McGovern (Mass.), Jan SchakowskyJanice (Jan) Danoff SchakowskyLawmakers jump-start talks on privacy bill The Hill's Morning Report — Mueller testimony gives Trump a boost as Dems ponder next steps On The Money: House to vote on budget deal Thursday | US, China resuming trade talks next week | Mnuchin backs DOJ tech antitrust probe MORE (Ill.), Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardGabbard hits DNC over poll criteria for debates The Hill's Morning Report: How will Trump be received at G-7? Gabbard, Steyer inch toward making third Democratic debate MORE (Hawaii), Michael CapuanoMichael (Mike) Everett CapuanoInside the progressive hunt for vulnerable House Democrats Progressive mayor launches primary challenge to top Ways and Means Democrat Ex-GOP Rep. Roskam joins lobbying firm MORE (Mass.), Yvette ClarkeYvette Diane ClarkeInside the progressive hunt for vulnerable House Democrats Hillicon Valley: DOJ opens tech antitrust probe | Facebook, Amazon set lobbying records | Barr attacks encryption as security risk | NSA to create new cybersecurity arm House lawmakers to introduce bill banning facial recognition tech in public housing MORE (N.Y.), Ted Lieu (Calif.), Barbara LeeBarbara Jean LeeLawmakers urge DNC to name Asian American debate moderator Overnight Health Care: Planned Parenthood to leave federal family planning program absent court action | Democrats demand Trump withdraw rule on transgender health | Cummings, Sanders investigate three drug companies for 'obstructing' probe Democrats demand Trump officials withdraw rule on transgender health MORE (Calif.) and Adriano EspaillatAdriano de Jesus Espaillat CabralCongressional Hispanic Caucus calls for answers on Mississippi ICE raids Congressional Hispanic Caucus members call for diversity within the Fed Democrats express private disappointment with Mueller testimony MORE (N.Y.).

The lawmakers announced their plans on the same day the United Nations’ special envoy for Yemen is convening the first formal peace talks in the war in two years.

Yemen’s civil war has raged since 2015, when Iran-backed Houthi rebels took over the capital of Sanaa. Saudi Arabia, concerned about Iran’s link to rebels near its border, intervened on behalf of the internationally recognized Yemeni government.

The United States does not actively fight in the war, but it supports the coalition with aerial refueling, intelligence sharing and billions of dollars in weapons sales.

U.S. lawmakers’ patience with the Saudi coalition has been wearing increasingly thin as the civilian death toll mounts. The United Nations pegs the civilian death toll at 6,660 as of Aug. 23, a number that is largely blamed on coalition air strikes.

“It’s critical that the United States not choose sides in this war, and any American involvement can and must be debated transparently,” the Democrats said Thursday. “For every Yemeni civilian killed in an airstrike, countless more perish from hunger and disease triggered and sustained by the war. The Saudi-led coalition, and all parties involved, must be held accountable for their actions contributing to this ongoing crisis.”

A United Nations report last month said all parties in the conflict may be responsible for war crimes.

Last month, the coalition struck a school bus, killing 40 children. The incident prompted the rare admission from the coalition that the strike was “unjustified.”

The State Department said this week that Saudi Arabia’s admission was an "important first step toward full transparency and accountability" while reiterating it “fully supports” U.N. Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths's efforts to end the war.

As part of the annual defense policy bill signed into law last month, Congress is requiring the administration to certify by Sept. 12 that Saudi and Emirati behavior is helping to end the war, alleviate the humanitarian crisis and protect civilians. If the administration cannot make the certification, it must stop refueling coalition aircraft.

The law allows for a national security waiver to keep refueling aircraft if the certification can’t be made, but the administration still has to submit an unclassified justification to Congress if it grants the waiver.

“As the U.N. attempts to broker a ceasefire, it is imperative that the Saudi-led coalition halt fresh hostilities and planned offensives, particularly in and around the vital port city of Hodeidah,” the Democrats said in their statement Thursday. “We are closely monitoring the actions of the Saudi-led coalition and the White House during these crucial peace negotiations.”