Tuesday, June 18, 2019

House passes War Powers resolution to end US-backed involvement in Yemen

“I’m encouraged by the direction people are pushing our party to take on foreign policy, promoting restraint and human rights and with the sense they want Congress to play a much larger role.”

Image Credit: Peace Action

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives voted in favor of a resolution that would end U.S. military involvement in Saudi Arabia. The majority of House Democrats and 18 Republicans approved the resolution.

The resolution cites the War Powers Act of 1973 and argues that the U.S. military involvement in assisting the Saudi Arabia-led coalition fighting in Yemen falls under this act.

The resolution states:

“Congress hereby directs the President to remove United States Armed Forces from hostilities in or affecting the Republic of Yemen, except United States Armed Forces engaged in operations directed at al-Qaeda or associated forces, by not later than the date that is 30 days after the date of the enactment of this joint resolution (unless the President requests and Congress authorizes a later date), and unless and until a declaration of war or specific authorization for such use of United States Armed Forces has been enacted.”

While the Trump administration current policy provides some military aid along with sharing of intelligence information and providing logistical support, the Washington Post reported, it does so without congressional approval.

In a statement made by the White House, the Trump administration disagrees with the resolution saying it would “harm bilateral relationships in the region, negatively affect our ability to prevent the spread of violent extremist organizations…and establish bad precedent for future legislation by defining ‘hostilities’ to include defense cooperation such as aerial refueling for purposes of this legislation.”

But Rep. Ro Khanna (D–Calif.), sponsor of the bill who originally introduced the resolution in 2017, said that Congress never voted to authorize U.S. involvement in Yemen in a rebuke to the Trump administration’s statement.

“Today is historic,” Khanna said. “I’m encouraged by the direction people are pushing our party to take on foreign policy, promoting restraint and human rights and with the sense they want Congress to play a much larger role.”

Added to the Yemen resolution was an amendment condemning anti-Semitism introduced by Rep. David Kustoff (R-Tenn.), which passed 424-0 after Rep. Thomas Massie (R–Ky.) initially voted “present” on the resolution itself before voting “yes.”

With an overall 248-177 vote on the resolution, it wasn’t enough to help overcome a potential veto, which needs a majority two-thirds vote in both chambers, The Hill reported. The resolution will head to the Senate in which a vote is expected in the next 30 days.

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