United States House Democrats on Wednesday (June 12) will launch their bid to block the Trump administration from completing 22 arms deals largely benefiting Saudi Arabia, but hurdles in the Senate - and expected veto threats - could undermine a bipartisan effort to prevent the President from completing the deal in defiance of Congress.
Cooper said that some of the weapons have already been sent to the customer since the emergency declaration and before Wednesday's hearing. They said he did not disclose new threats from Iran, raising questions of whether the emergency was real.
"This rarely used emergency authority ... in my judgment was unfortunate", Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, the ranking Republican on the committee, told Cooper.
Members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee are expected to unveil four resolutions of disapproval on Wednesday, each created to push back on elements of President Donald Trump's plan to conclude the arms deals via an emergency executive order. While arms sales usually go through a 30-day congressional review period, the provision allows for this process to be skipped in the case of an emergency.
"We'll see how the parliamentarian rules", said Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman James Risch, noting that "I suspect someone will ask" the parliamentarian to determine whether the measures should get a vote. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, for example, has placed the sale of precision-guided weapons to the Saudis and Emiratis on hold over concerns about civilian casualties in Yemen. "It's phony, it's made up, and it's an abuse of the law - once again, attempting to cut Congress out of the whole picture", said the committee's chair, Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y. That is what most Democrats expressed concern about - as they've been used in bombing civilian targets.
Lawmakers including Trump loyalists have expressed concern that USA weapons might be used against civilians in Yemen by the Saudi-led coalition engaged in the brutal war there. Cooper acknowledged that "there is room to improve the integrity of the targeting process" but said that this "does not preclude" continuing to arm the coalition with those weapons.
A United States diplomat countered that the emergency declaration was justified because of the "uptick of the threat streams" from Iran.
"If we allow these arms sales, the effect will be to prolong a war that does not serve USA interests while signaling to the Saudis that they can get away with anything".
However, Trump significantly overstates both the economic impact such arms deals have on the USA economy and the degree to which the Saudis could quickly or easily shift the bulk of their arms purchases to China or Russian Federation. The data is from 2015-2019, spanning the final days of the Obama administration into the Trump administration.
Engel and other committee members decried the Saudi use of USA weapons in Yemen, where coalition airstrikes have hit hospitals and contributed to what the United Nations calls the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. Perhaps the strongest criticism of that relationship came from freshman Congressperson Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, She described the Saudi and Emirati governments as "brutal regimes" that "crush democratic movements abroad" and "have been funders of terrorists". But it's not only immoral, it's counterproductive to our national security. Doing so shows open disregard for the will of Congress and the American people and is a slap in the face to our democracy and our values.
'Now is not the time to do business as usual with Saudi Arabia...'
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