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Senators will try to block US arms sales to Saudis

A bipartisan group of senators will try to block the Trump administration’s use of emergency authority to sell arms to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, setting up a possible showdown with the White House.
The resolutions of disapproval come after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Congress the administration would move forward with billions of dollars in arms sales using an emergency provision in the Arms Export Control Act. The resolutions are the latest example of tension between senators and the White House over what role Congress should play in U.S. foreign policy decisions.
Senators from both parties have attempted to punish Saudi Arabia over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last year. The CIA believes Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman directed Khashoggi’s killing.
Among the co-sponsors of the resolutions are Sens. Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a close ally of President Donald Trump.
Menendez, in a statement, called on Pompeo to withdraw the emergency certification and have Congress review the sales.
Menendez added that he is “prepared to move forward with any and all options to nullify the licenses at issue for both Saudi Arabia and UAE and eliminate any ability for the Administration to bypass Congress in future arms sales.”
Graham, in a statement, assailed the decision and said that the behavior of the crown prince “cannot be ignored.”
“Now is not the time to do business as usual with Saudi Arabia,” Graham said in a statement. “I am also very concerned about the precedent these arms sales would set by having the administration go around legitimate concerns of the Congress. I expect and look forward to strong bipartisan support for these resolutions of disapproval.”
Among the other co-sponsors of the bill are Democratic Sens. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Jack Reed of Rhode Island, as well as Republican Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Todd Young of Indiana.
The resolution isn’t the first bipartisan effort to curb the White House’s authority on foreign policy issues involving Saudi Arabia. Earlier this year, the Senate passed a bipartisan resolution to cut off U.S. Support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. The resolution gained support in the wake of Khashoggi’s murder. Seven Republicans joined all members of the Democratic caucus to pass the resolution, which Trump ultimately vetoed.a