This afternoon the Senate voted to table (i.e., kill) the Sanders-Lee resolution by a vote of 55-44. Most supporters of the resolution were Democrats, but there were five Republicans that broke ranks and voted to in support of S.J.Res. 54. This resolution was an unprecedented measure in the history of the Senate, and it was the most significant action in Congress on war powers in decades. The fact that the resolution managed to get 44 votes in the face of concerted opposition from the White House, the Pentagon, and Republican leadership is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the many organizations on the left and right that backed the resolution.
The Republican co-sponsor of the resolution reacted to the vote earlier today:
The power to declare war belongs to Congress. By tabling this measure today, we have chosen yet again to abdicate our constitutional responsibility.
— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) March 20, 2018
The Senate has failed in one of its most important constitutional duties today, but opponents of U.S. backing for the war on Yemen still have several reasons to be encouraged by the growing resistance to this indefensible policy. Each time that opponents of the war on Yemen have pushed to limit or end U.S. support, they have gained more backing in Congress and have drawn more attention to the war and the U.S. role in it. When a Saudi arms sale came up for a vote two years ago, only 27 senators voted against it. Now 44 are willing to vote for a resolution that would halt all U.S. military assistance to the Saudis and their allies. Perhaps next time there will be even more votes for ending the war than there were today. The debate and vote on the resolution have put additional pressure on members of Congress to pay attention to the war, and the vote has forced senators to declare one way or the other. It is frustrating that U.S. support for the war will continue illegally, but opposition to the war is much stronger than it was a year ago and should keep getting stronger.