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Schumer joins bipartisan push to block part of Trump's Saudi arms deal

Schumer joins bipartisan push to block part of Trump's Saudi arms deal

The Senate is heading toward a showdown vote over President Donald Trump's proposed weapons sale to Saudi Arabia.

Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, came out against the munitions sale to Saudi Arabia last week, citing the Trump administration's decision to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia instead of trying to find a solution to the civil war in Yemen, where the Saudi-led coalition is accused of bombing civilians.

Both Schumer and Cardin voted to dispose of that disapproval resolution, which was over a separate Saudi arms sale approved under the Obama administration.

Paul and Murphy were able to force Tuesday's vote on the arms sale because of the arcane rules of the 1976 Arms Export Control Act, which gives any senator the ability to force a vote to disapprove of a foreign arms sale. Paul said in a floor speech ahead of the vote.

"Voting for the weapons sale, these Senators showed that they value the war profiteers more than lives of Yemenis and more than United States national security", said CODEPINK cofounder Jodie Evans.

"I can list 20 reasons why I'm very concerned about giving them weapons, but one of those things also coming up this week is we're unhappy with Iran for developing ballistic missiles".

The arms deal will no doubt further bolster an emboldened Saudi coalition at a time when a cholera outbreak has swept the country, reaching over 100,000 cases in less than three months.

Franken, a co-sponsor of the resolution, cited Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen, which he called "a tragedy that we can not continue to support".

According to United Nations estimates, the war in Yemen has so far cost at least 10,000 lives, and horror stories of civilian casualties continue to emerge from the conflict, including a Saudi-led bombing of a funeral in October that wounded hundreds and killed over 100.

Paul noted a large number of people aren't aware of the U.S.'s involvement in the Middle East, adding the Senate hasn't spent much time discussing the situation in Yemen.

"Despite increased U.S. support in the form of training and smarter weaponry to lessen civilian casualties, it has become clear that several unaddressed flaws in Saudi Arabia's targeting process, not the precision of the munition or targeting skill, are the principal cause of harm", read a letter signed by Oxfam and 40 other humanitarian groups and sent to every member of the U.S. Senate. Chris Murphy of CT and Al Franken of Minnesota to block the sale of $510 million of precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia.

"Values do mean something and we shouldn't be offering our weapons and our support to a country with these disgusting abuses", he emphasized.

"Today, a bipartisan group of senators took a stand against the escalating war Saudi Arabia is waging with Yemen", Paul said after the vote.

"The U.S. likes to talk about the war in Yemen as if it's someone else's problem", said Beckerle. Paul cast the vote as a referendum on USA support for the Saudi air campaign and Congress' opportunity to assert its war-making responsibilities.


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