Senators introduce bill to respond to Khashoggi killing

Senators introduce bill to respond to Khashoggi killing

A bipartisan group of six senators introduced a bill Thursday aimed at forcing “meaningful accountability” for the killing of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The bill is also seeks to push the parties in Yemen’s civil war toward a peace process and address the humanitarian crisis there. U.S. support for the Saudi Arabia-led coalition in Yemen has come under fire as lawmakers search for a response to the Khashoggi crisis.

“While the Trump administration’s announcement today of sanctions on 17 Saudi individuals is a welcome step, it is far from sufficient,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezAs NFIP reauthorization deadline looms, Congress must end lethal subsidies Senate Democrats warn Trump: Don't invite Putin to G-7 Pelosi warns Mnuchin to stop 'illegal' .3B cut to foreign aid MORE (D-N.J.) said in a statement. “There must be a transparent, credible investigation into Khashoggi’s murder and with this bill Congress is demonstrating its commitment to accountability and human rights. “

Menendez introduced the bill with Sens. Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungSenators pressure Trump to help end humanitarian crisis in Kashmir Congress set for chaotic fall sprint Overnight Defense: Senate fails to override Trump veto on Saudi arms sales | Two US troops killed in Afghanistan | Senators tee up nominations, budget deal ahead of recess MORE (R-Ind.), Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedNegotiators kick off defense bill talks amid border wall, Iran debates Hillicon Valley: Zuckerberg to meet with lawmakers | Big tech defends efforts against online extremism | Trump attends secretive Silicon Valley fundraiser | Omar urges Twitter to take action against Trump tweet Senate Democrats introduce legislation to limit foreign interference in elections MORE (D-R.I.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSenate Judiciary Committee requests consultation with admin on refugee admissions Trump reignites court fight with Ninth Circuit pick Trump judicial picks face rare GOP opposition MORE (R-S.C.), Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenCruz endorses GOP candidate for Senate in New Hampshire Meghan McCain: Lewandowski Senate run would be 'an absolutely ridiculous crap show' Super PAC targets Lewandowski with ad amid Senate speculation MORE (D-N.H.) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsTrump judicial picks face rare GOP opposition GOP signals unease with Barr's gun plan Sinema touts bipartisan record as Arizona Democrats plan censure vote MORE (R-Maine).

Earlier Thursday, the Trump administration announced sanctions against 17 Saudis over their alleged role in Khashoggi’s death. It came hours after the Saudis announced the indictment of 11 people, with five facing the death penalty.

The Trump administration’s announcement represented its most sweeping response yet to the killing, which happened Oct. 2 when Khashoggi went to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Turkish officials have said Khashoggi was strangled almost immediately after he entered the consulate and that his body was then dismembered and disposed of. Turkey called the Saudi announcement Thursday “unsatisfactory.”

In the United States, lawmakers called the Trump administration’s sanctions welcome, but said more needed to be done. The harshest criticisms accused the Trump administration of accepting the Saudi version of events and giving a pass to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who many are skeptical did not order the killing.

The bill introduced Thursday 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.

It would also require a report within 30 days on the kingdom’s human rights record.

“Our bill sends an important signal, and when combined with the efforts announced by the Treasury Department, goes a long way to address despicable behavior on several fronts,” Graham said in a statement.

To help address the Yemen crisis, the bill would suspend weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and prohibit the U.S. military from refueling Saudi coalition aircraft.

The administration announced last week that aerial refueling was ending.

“The administration’s recent decision to suspend U.S. aerial refueling for the Saudi Coalition absent an actual strategy for ending this conflict is empty action,” Menendez said in his statement. “That is why this bill makes clear that Congress demands an immediate cessation of hostilities, urgently calls on all parties to prioritize protection of Yemeni civilians and makes certain that only a political settlement will end this war.”

The bill would also impose sanctions both on those blocking humanitarian access in Yemen and those supporting the Houthi rebels there.

And it would require the administration regularly brief Congress on the U.S. strategy to end the war, as well as give Congress a report on the causes and consequences of civilian harm in the war.

“This legislation provides the Trump administration leverage it should use to push all parties in Yemen to engage in good faith and urgent negotiations to end the civil war and address the world’s worst humanitarian crisis,” Young said in a statement. “Our national security interests and our humanitarian principles demand nothing less.”