House ignores Trump veto threat, approves bill ending US support for Yemen war

The House passed a resolution Thursday to end U.S. military support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, sending it to President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump denies telling Bolton Ukraine aid was tied to investigations Former senior Senate GOP aide says Republicans should call witnesses Title, release date revealed for Bolton memoir MORE’s desk and likely forcing him to issue the second veto of his presidency.

The resolution passed 247-175, with 16 Republicans siding with Democrats. One Republican, Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashSanders co-chair: Greenwald charges could cause 'chilling effect on journalism across the world' Trump rails against impeachment in speech to Texas farmers Overnight Defense: Foreign policy takes center stage at Democratic debate | House delivers impeachment articles to Senate | Dems vow to force new vote on Trump's border wall MORE (Mich.), voted present.

Thursday's vote was the first time since the War Powers Act was passed in 1973 that both chambers of Congress passed a resolution using that law and was the culmination of a years-long effort propelled in recent months by lawmakers’ fury at Saudi Arabia over the killing of U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

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The resolution, which would require Trump to withdraw U.S. military forces in or “affecting” Yemen unless they are fighting al Qaeda, gained considerable momentum after Khashoggi’s killing last year in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

Rep. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaWarren calls for Brazil to drop charges against Glenn Greenwald Sanders co-chair: Greenwald charges could cause 'chilling effect on journalism across the world' The Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clash over rules MORE (D-Calif.), the measure's chief House sponsor, said that his motivation for the bill was "very simple." 

"I don’t want to see 14 million Yemenis starve to death,” he said.

Khanna told reporters after the vote he continues to hold out hope Trump will sign the measure, given some of his top allies, such as Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsSunday shows preview: Lawmakers prepare for week two of impeachment trial Meadows says Trump told him he didn't threaten senators on impeachment vote Impeachment trial to enter new phase with Trump defense MORE (N.C.), were among the Republicans who supported it. Supporters will send a bipartisan letter to Trump asking to talk to him about the issue, Khanna added.

The White House has threatened to veto the resolution, saying in a statement that it raises “serious constitutional concerns” and is based on an “erroneous premise.”

Opponents of the measure argue it is unnecessary since the Trump administration suspended the U.S. military’s aerial refueling of Saudi coalition aircraft in November. They further argue it would embolden Iran.

“I hope everyone who cares about the people of Yemen understands that the legislation, in the past, did not remotely benefit them. Indeed, it will work to their detriment,” Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoHere's how the US can pressure Lebanon's new government tackle corruption Trump questions why NPR exists after Pompeo clashes with reporter Senate Dems to Pompeo: Comments about NPR reporter 'insulting and contemptuous' MORE told the House Foreign Affairs Committee last week.

Passage of the bill amounts to a legislative one-two punch for Trump, coming just weeks after he was forced to issue the first veto of his presidency on a resolution that would have blocked his national emergency declaration to build a wall along the southern border.

A handful of lawmakers have been sounding the alarm for years about Riyadh’s behavior in the four-year-old civil war in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia is leading a coalition against Iran-backed Houthi rebels.

Coalition airstrikes have been blamed for thousands of civilian deaths, as well as exacerbating a cholera epidemic and the risk of famine. The United States supports the coalition with logistics, intelligence sharing and arms sales.

The Senate first passed the resolution in December in the aftermath of Khashoggi’s death, but the GOP-controlled House did not take it up.

When Democrats took back control of the House in January, they made the Yemen resolution a priority and passed it in February. But Republicans successfully added an amendment denouncing anti-Semitism, a response to a separate controversy over comments from Rep. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarBiden leads 2020 pack in congressional endorsements Sanders wants one-on-one fight with Biden Jayapal: 'We will end up with another Donald Trump' if the US doesn't elect a progressive MORE (D-Minn.).

The anti-Semitism language slowed the bill when it came back to the Senate after the parliamentarian ruled it was no longer privileged, the mechanism that allowed supporters to force a vote and pass it with a simple majority. That meant senators had to reintroduce a clean version of the bill, which passed 54-46 and went back to the House for Thursday’s vote.

Fearful of killing the resolution forever by forcing it to go back to the Senate yet again, Democrats rejected a Republican amendment opposing the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement Thursday in a 194-228 vote. One Republican, Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzGaetz in Twitter battle with Florida House Republican Apple under pressure to unlock Pensacola shooter's phones Conservatives slam Warren's call to put transgender women in women's prisons MORE (Fla.), voted present.

“I strongly condemn the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, economic warfare against the state of Israel, and there is no one in this chamber, no one, who would question my commitment to opposing BDS or rejecting anti-Semitism or supporting our ally Israel,” said Rep. Ted DeutchTheodore (Ted) Eliot DeutchUS officials, world leaders arrive in Israel for World Holocaust Forum  Bipartisan lawmakers condemn Iran, dispute State Department on number of protesters killed Bipartisan lawmakers introduce amendment affirming US commitment to military aid to Israel MORE (D-Fla.), who is Jewish. “But I also strongly reject ... I strongly reject what my colleagues are doing here today. … This is not a [motion] about BDS. We’ve seen this play out before the last time this resolution came up.”

The Yemen resolution passed neither the House nor the Senate with enough support to override Trump’s likely veto.

Even so, supporters of the resolution are still hailing Thursday’s passage as a significant victory that sends a strong message to Saudi Arabia that its behavior is unacceptable, as well as a historic moment for Congress asserting its war-making authority.

“Today’s vote ushers in a new era in which Congress reclaims its power over war in order to advance the cause of peace,” Kate Gould, legislative director for Middle East policy at the Friends Committee on National Legislation, said in an email. “Rep. Ro Khanna introduced his first Yemen war powers resolution in the last Congress, and now five versions of that same legislation later, Congress is finally flexing its war powers muscle to lift up the plight of millions of Yemeni men, women and children who are on the brink of starving to death.”

— This report was updated at 1:08 p.m.