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Senate Vote Fails to Block Saudi Arms Deal

14 June 2017

A bipartisan effort to stop a portion of President Donald Trump's $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia just got a big boost.

The Senate's top Democrat says he will back a resolution disapproving of the sale of precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia.

Schumer, in a statement, said that he supports Murphy's resolution of disapproval.

The vote targets an arms sale that was blocked under former President Barack Obama.

Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy, who has been a vocal critic of America's involvement in Yemen, joined Paul in his condemnation.

The Trump administration notified Congress last week that it soon planned to begin delivering precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia under a 2015 weapons deal, congressional officials said on Tuesday.

"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".

Murphy has argued that the Yemenis are being "radicalized" by the Saudi strikes, and the arms sales would "give more space for ISIS and Al Qaeda to grow" in that nation.

Nonetheless, the resolution's supporters argue that if the measure receives backing from a substantial number of senators, it could send a message to Riyadh and its allies, particularly in regards to the conflict in Yemen, that USA support for Saudi Arabia in the conflict is not unconditional.

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"Already, U.S. military assistance through intelligence, refueling missions, and the sale of major U.S. defense equipment has not abated the humanitarian crisis in Yemen", Paul said.

If the past is any indication, any time we sell weapons to an adversary of Israel, the Israelis are forced to purchase more and newer weapons which only escalates an arms race in the Middle East. The tally demonstrated growing dissent among American lawmakers who are uncomfortable with the USA military's continued support of the Saudi-led coalition's intervention in Yemen, where civilians have borne the brunt of Saudi Arabia's proxy war with Houthi rebels.

In a June 8 letter signed by 41 human rights groups, including Win Without War, Project on Middle East Democracy, and the Yemen Peace Project, activists have called upon legislators to reject the Trump's administration's proposed arms deal.

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Rand Paul was a leading sponsor of the legislation against the arms sales. "We are literally sending Yemen weapons of mass starvation".

Paul said, "I think the votes will continue to grow".

Paul and Murphy argued that the U.S. should not sell the precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia because of its role in the civil war in Yemen, where a Saudi-backed coalition has fought Iranian-backed Houthi rebels and has been accused of bombing civilians.

"The U.S. likes to talk about the war in Yemen as if it's someone else's problem", said Beckerle.

Senate Vote Fails to Block Saudi Arms Deal