Members of Congress aren’t buying Trump’s bogus “emergency” that he declared in order to send weapons to the Saudis and the UAE:
Rep. Eliot Engel (D., N.Y.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called the decision “another slap in Congress’s face.”
“Congress wrote the law so that weapon sales would reflect broad consensus on foreign policy, consistent with our values, and the notion that there’s an emergency that justified upending our checks and balances is false, plain and simple,” he said.
The president and his officials have been stoking tensions with Iran for months, and they have also been backing the Saudis and Emiratis to the hilt in Yemen for more than two years. Now they seek to ratchet up tensions in the region further by using an obscure loophole to get more weapons to these governments over Congress’ objections. Reuters also reports on the details:
The administration has informed congressional committees that it will go ahead with 22 arms deals worth some $8 billion, congressional aides said, sweeping aside a long-standing precedent for congressional review of such sales.
The administration has consistently tried to misrepresent the war on Yemen as a fight against Iranian influence, and with this fake “emergency” Trump is doing the same thing again. Congress has made clear that U.S. involvement in the war on Yemen is unauthorized and illegal, but the president has ignored the express wishes of the legislative branch. Trump’s made-up “emergency” is another show of contempt for Congress’ role in these matters, and it is imperative that Congress reject it with every means at their disposal. As I said yesterday, there is no emergency that justifies the president’s extraordinary move to defy Congress on arms sales. The administration wants to use Iran as their catch-all excuse for everything they do in the region, but it doesn’t hold up under scrutiny. William Hartung explains:
Furthermore, while the Houthi rebels fighting the Saudi/UAE coalition in Yemen receive some support from Iran, they are not proxies of Tehran. They have been fighting on and off for decades based on their own political and economic grievances, and in a number of instances they have taken actions that Iran had counseled against. In short, selling weapons that will foster further slaughter in Yemen to counter Iran is both unjustified and immoral. And as Sen. Murphy has pointed out, if Trump is allowed to use a false emergency over Iran to circumvent Congress, “Congress will never be able to object to an arms sale again.”
Considering how easily the president can abuse this provision when he wants to, it would be wise for Congress to close this loophole and make sure that it won’t be available to be misused in the future.