After two years reckless and irresponsible Trump administration foreign policy, the new Democratic House majority is in a position to provide greater oversight and scrutiny of the president’s policies:
A Democrat-led House will likely launch hearings quickly on U.S. aid to Saudi Arabia in Yemen and other secret wars. In late October, Smith and Engel sent Trump a letter warning against an exit from both the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, saying that “[i]t would divide our allies and play directly into President Putin’s hands.” As committee chairmen, they would have the power to hold repeated hearings and force the Trump administration to explain its plans in ways the Republican-led House has not done.
Some of those hearings—which Democratic members have been shouting for since early 2017—could be acutely embarrassing for the Trump administration. “We will see a lot of demand for information,” said Alexandra Bell, a former senior arms control official.
The change in control of the House may have the greatest impact on U.S. support for the war on Yemen. Dozens of Democratic House members have already co-sponsored H.Con.Res. 138, including members of the party leadership and the ranking members of relevant committees, and those numbers seem certain to grow with the influx of new members in January. Thanks to the efforts of Reps. Ro Khanna and Mark Pocan, H.Con.Res. 138 will come up for a vote later this month, and if for some reason it doesn’t pass in this Congress there is a much better chance that it will pass in the new Congress next year. Reps. Engel and Smith are both co-sponsors of the measure to end U.S. involvement in the war on Yemen, and once they become the chairmen of their respective committees they will be able to challenge the administration on this and other foreign policy issues over the next two years. Together with their colleagues in the Senate, they are well-positioned to cause the Trump administration a lot of headaches, and most important of all they have a real chance to shut down U.S. involvement in the Saudi coalition’s war. The House Democrats aren’t going to be able to stop or reverse all of Trump’s destructive foreign policy decisions, but on Yemen they have an opportunity to force real changes in U.S. policy.