White House ‘strongly opposes’ Senate resolution to stop Saudi arms sale

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The White House on Tuesday pushed back against the Senate’s bid to block the Biden administration’s first major arms sale to Saudi Arabia over the country’s involvement in Yemen’s civil war.

In a statement of administration policy, the White House said it “strongly opposes” the joint resolution of disapproval to block a proposed $650 million weapons sale to the Saudi government that the Senate is set to consider on Tuesday evening.

The administration argued that the proposed foreign military sale — which included 280 air-to-air missiles made by Raytheon Technologies — “would replenish Saudi Arabia’s existing inventory of air-to-air missiles” to defend against aerial cross-border attacks and would not be used to engage ground targets.

But Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) doesn’t seem to agree. Paul, who introduced the joint resolution along with Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in November, argued earlier on Tuesday that Saudi Arabia’s role in Yemen’s civil war, including an air and naval blockade of Yemen, “is an abomination.”

“For years now, ships that would otherwise carry food, fuel, and medicine are turned away by the Saudi-led coalition, depriving the Yemeni people of the necessities to sustain civilization,” Paul wrote in an op-ed published in The American Conservative.

“But, this week, the Senate can start the process of ending this crisis by passing my legislation to cancel an American arms sale to Saudi Arabia that aids and abets the subjugation of the Yemeni people,” he added.

On the House side, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), introduced her own joint resolution aimed at blocking the weapons sale, citing the same reasoning.

The White House, however, pushed back on such assertions, claiming the sale “is fully consistent with the Administration’s pledge to lead with diplomacy to end conflict in Yemen and end U.S. support for offensive operations in the war in Yemen, while also ensuring that Saudi Arabia has the means to defend itself from Iranian-backed Houthi air attacks.”

The resolution’s passage “would undermine the President’s commitment to aid in our partner’s defenses at a time of increased missile and drone attacks against civilians in Saudi Arabia,” the statement added.

The State Department approved the $650 million weapons sale, the first major arms deal made with Saudi Arabia during Biden’s presidency, on Nov. 4.

Tags Bernie Sanders Ilhan Omar Mike Lee Rand Paul Saudi Arabia Yemen

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