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60 Members of Congress Call for Delay of Saudi Arms Sale

John Hudson reports [1] on growing discontent in Congress over the administration’s arms sales to the Saudis:

In a sign that frustration is growing in Congress over Saudi Arabia, a bipartisan group of 60 lawmakers have signed a letter seeking to delay the Obama administration’s planned sale of $1.15 billion in arms and military equipment to Riyadh.

These members of Congress deserve a lot of credit for taking on a difficult task in challenging the administration over its support for the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen. They may or may not succeed in delaying this latest sale, but they are doing important work just by putting the policy of uncritical backing for the Saudis and their allies under the scrutiny that has been needed for more than a year. They are bringing much-needed attention to the Obama administration’s irresponsible and indefensible enabling of reckless client states and the destruction those states have wrought in Yemen. I was especially heartened to see that Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan was one of the letter’s signatories. This is exactly the sort of essential oversight work that Congress should be doing, but which most members fail or refuse to do.

The report concludes:

“This is a first step, which shows that members of Congress are increasingly ready to move from expressing private concerns to the administration to taking public action to reduce U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen,” said Robert Naiman, policy director at Just Foreign Policy.

A year ago, there were very few members of Congress that publicly opposed Obama’s policy of enabling the Saudi-led war, and now there are five dozen willing to take a public position against more arms for the Saudis. Congress is still a long way from reining in a disastrous and monstrous policy in Yemen, but this is the most promising sign yet that many members of Congress want to do so.

Update: A copy of the letter with the members’ signatures can be found here [2]. 64 members of Congress in total have signed the letter.

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10 Comments To "60 Members of Congress Call for Delay of Saudi Arms Sale"

#1 Comment By jk On August 29, 2016 @ 8:03 pm

There’s a reason why Boeing, Raytheon, et al have HQs and some plants in just about every state of the Union.

#2 Comment By cecelia On August 29, 2016 @ 8:16 pm

this is good news – I’d like to hear Obama explain to us why he thinks support for the Saudi’s in Yemen is such a nifty idea

#3 Comment By Prof Woland On August 29, 2016 @ 11:52 pm

Is there a list of who these 60 members are? It’d be good to know so we could support them.

#4 Comment By Chris Chuba On August 30, 2016 @ 7:09 am

I followed the link and ‘googled’ but I can’t find the list of congressmen who signed this letter. I’d appreciate it if someone could dig this up. I’d like to know who the ones are who have a conscience.

BTW I am not anticipating seen McCain on it and would be surprised to see Rubio or Cruz.

Supporting Saudi Arabia is bad policy no matter how you slice it.

It is not a war of self defense, it is a ‘preemptive war’ a concept that should be thoroughly discredited by now. In any case, I’d really like to see the list.

#5 Comment By SteveM On August 30, 2016 @ 7:56 am

From John Hudson’s essay: “A State Department official…said the U.S. remains committed to confronting ‘any external threat’ to the territorial integrity of Gulf allies, like Saudi Arabia…”

Think about the scope of that statement. It Is yet another example of not the banality of evil, but the banality of the Imperial Presidency. I.e., the implied claim that the President can take America to war to defend despotic dictatorships without congressional approval is met with a yawn.

This congressional initiative may be a start. But while those 60 legistlators are at it, why don’t they also formulate a veto-proof bill that recinds the egregiously open-ended AUMF? Or better still, attach kill AUMF rider to the next appropriations bill and dare the President to “shut down the government” so that he/she can take America to war on his/her whim.

#6 Comment By Daniel Larison On August 30, 2016 @ 8:10 am

I haven’t found a complete list of members that signed the letter yet, but I’ll include it in an update as soon as I find it.

#7 Comment By Chris Chuba On August 30, 2016 @ 2:18 pm

Thank you Daniel, I believe you will as this is a passionate topic of yours.

Didn’t Biden call the 100 who died during Maidan the Heavenly Hundred? I vote to call these Representatives the Saintly Sixty.

#8 Comment By cka2nd` On August 30, 2016 @ 3:42 pm

Thanks for the link to the actual letter, Daniel. Nice to see that Justin Amash and Walter Jones co-signed the letter with such progressive luminaries as Barbara Lee, Keith Ellison, Raul Grijalva and John Lewis. Nice to see my representative’s name on it, too.

#9 Comment By cka2nd` On August 30, 2016 @ 4:02 pm

Daniel, could you comment on the added complication of the South Yemen vs. North Yemen divide, including the secessionist sentiment in the former? The Saudis have air-dropped weapons into the port of Aden, the former capital of the independent People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen, and claimed that the militias there support the Saudis and the exiled Hadi administration, but from the few websites I could find touching on the situation, it sounds like the Saudi/Southern Movement alliance is merely one of convenience. Your thoughts?

#10 Comment By Johann On August 30, 2016 @ 5:49 pm

Thank you for keeping Yemen in our faces Mr. Larison. I would like to think that your updates on Yemen have influenced at least some of the Congressional representatives, if not directly, then indirectly by influencing some of their constituents to make their views known to them.