Overnight Defense: House votes to end US support for Yemen war | Vote expected to force Trump's second veto of presidency | More Russian troops may head to Venezuela | First 'Space Force' hearing set for next week

Happy Thursday and welcome to Overnight Defense. I'm Ellen Mitchell, and here's your nightly guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and beyond. CLICK HERE to subscribe to the newsletter.

 

THE TOPLINE: 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 reversed course on flavored e-cigarette ban over fear of job losses: report Trump to award National Medal of Arts to actor Jon Voight Sondland notified Trump officials of investigation push ahead of Ukraine call: report 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 AmashTrump allies assail impeachment on process while House Democrats promise open hearings soon Hoyer: We are going to move as fast 'as the facts and truth dictate' on open hearings Conway spars with Wallace on whether White House will cooperate with impeachment inquiry after formal vote MORE (Mich.), voted present.

About the resolution: 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. It 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.

Background: 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.

What happens now: 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 Pompeo told the House Foreign Affairs Committee last week.

 

RAND BLOCKS RESOLUTION CALLING FOR RELEASE OF MUELLER REPORT: Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulGOP divided over impeachment trial strategy Trump: 'Everybody knows who the whistleblower is' Johnson opens door to subpoenaing whistleblower, Schiff, Bidens MORE (R-Ky.) blocked a resolution calling for special counsel Robert Mueller's report on the Russia probe be made public, marking the fifth time Republicans have blocked the House-passed measure.

Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerHillicon Valley: Federal inquiry opened into Google health data deal | Facebook reports millions of post takedowns | Microsoft shakes up privacy debate | Disney plus tops 10M sign-ups in first day Microsoft embraces California law, shaking up privacy debate Google sparks new privacy fears over health care data MORE (D-Va.), the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, asked for unanimous consent on Thursday to pass the resolution, which cleared the House in a 420-0 vote earlier this year. 

"What we're talking about is basic transparency, let's make sure the full Mueller report is released to Congress ... and then let's make sure the American people see as much of this report as possible," Warner said from the Senate floor. 

How Rand blocked it: Under Senate rules, any one senator can request that any bill or resolution be passed. But because it requires the signoff of every senator, any one senator can also block their request.  

Paul objected because Warner wouldn't agree to amend the nonbinding House-passed resolution to include provisions calling for the public release of communications between several Obama-era officials including former President Obama, former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyChris Wallace on Yovanovitch testimony: 'If you're not moved, you don't have a pulse' Day one impeachment hearings draw 13.1M viewers, down 32 percent from Comey hearings There are poor ideas, bad ones and Facebook's Libra MORE and former CIA Director John BrennanJohn Owen BrennanTrump bemoans 'double standard' in Stone conviction The curious timeline for taking down Trump Brennan: Russian election interference 'changed the mind of at least one voter' MORE.

Paul argued that Congress still needs to figure out the "entire story" including the origins of the investigation into President Trump's campaign and a controversial research dossier compiled against then-candidate Trump.

A refresher: Thursday's floor drama comes after The New York Times reported that some members of Mueller's team believe the four-page letter from Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrGOP rep predicts watchdog report on alleged FISA abuses will find 'problems' Barr defends Trump's use of executive authority, slams impeachment hearings GOP eager for report on alleged FBI surveillance abuse MORE that summarized the principal conclusions didn't sufficiently portray their findings, which they suggested could be more damaging to Trump than Barr conveyed.

It marks the fifth time Democrats have tried to pass the House resolution, which says there is "overwhelming public interest" in the government releasing the contents of the high-profile Mueller report. The resolution calls on the Justice Department to fully release the report to Congress and to release it to the public "except to the extent the public disclosure of any portion thereof is expressly prohibited by law."

Mueller handed over his report to the Justice Department, marking the formal end to his two-year investigation. Barr is expected to testify on the report early next month.

  

MORE RUSSIAN TROOPS IN VENEZUELA SOON? Venezuelan Deputy Foreign Minister Ivan Gil on Thursday said there could be more Russian military personnel arriving in Venezuelaaccording to Reuters, citing news agency Interfax.

The Venezuelan officials also said that Russian forces would stay in Venezuela for as long as necessary.

"The group of military specialists is [in Venezuela] in the context of our agreements and contracts for military-technical cooperation," Gil said, according to the news service. 

Context: The Russian presence in Venezuela has led to heightened tensions between Russia and the U.S.

Russia backs Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro as the country's leader while the U.S. has recognized opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the nation's interim president. Relations grew even more strained with the revelation in late March that Russia had sent 100 military specialists to the South American nation.

US keeps a firm stance: On Saturday, White House national security adviser John Bolton said Russia sending military forces and equipment to Venezuela would constitute a "direct threat to security in the region."

"We will consider such provocative actions as a direct threat to international peace and security in the region. We will continue to defend and protect the interests of the United States, and those of our partners in the Western Hemisphere," Bolton said.

President Trump, meanwhile, has said the Kremlin "has to get out" of Venezuela. Russian officials have responded by accusing the U.S. of trying to foment a coup and said that Russia is not the nation "changing the balance of power in the region."

 

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