Washington, D.C. — March 13, 2019 — In response to the Senate passing S.J.Res. 7, legislation directing the president to withdraw U.S. support for the Saudi/UAE-led war in Yemen, Paul Kawika Martin, Senior Director for Policy and Political Affairs at Peace Action, released the following statement:
“This Senate vote moves us one step closer to ending U.S. support for the catastrophic war in Yemen, a war that makes America complicit in the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. For nearly four years, U.S. support for the war in Yemen has embodied a side of American foreign policy that answers to foreign-backed lobbyists and arms industry profit motives before strategic and security interests and the Constitution. Congressional authority over war was designed to avoid the type of situation that’s been unfolding in Yemen, where unauthorized U.S. military support began without public debate or scrutiny, and continues despite its deleterious impact on the people of Yemen and on U.S. national security interests. The Senate’s vote to end the U.S. role in Yemen is also a vote to re-democratize our nation’s foreign policy.
“High-level diplomats have confirmed that the work by Senators Lee (R-UT), Murphy (D-CT) and Sanders (I-VT) to force congressional votes to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition have positively impacted negotiations to end the war. Ending U.S. support will put even more pressure on Saudi Arabia and the UAE to change their tactics and finally negotiate an end to the war.
“Sadly, Republican leadership in Congress has used a series of procedural gimmicks to repeatedly delay congressional action to end the U.S. role in Yemen, condemning more innocent Yemenis to death as U.S. support continues to prolong the war. Most recently, Senate leadership was able to block a vote on similar legislation passed by the House in February because of an amendment included in the House version that was unrelated to the underlying resolution. Now that the new Senate has passed the resolution, the House needs to pass the same clean version of the resolution to finally send it to the president’s desk.”
The humanitarian situation in Yemen remains dire. Over 20 million Yemenis are food insecure, nearly 10 million of whom are suffering from extreme hunger.
According to an October 2018 World Peace Foundation report, Saudi Arabia has repeatedly targeted food production and distribution facilities in an apparently deliberate attempt to starve the population of Yemen.
A November 2018 IRC/YouGov poll of Americans found that:
- 75 percent oppose U.S. military support for the Saudi and UAE-led coalition in Yemen.
- 82 percent agree Congress should vote to halt or decrease arms sales to the coalition.
This is not the first time members of Congress have attempted to end U.S. support for the war in Yemen by invoking the War Powers Act. On September 27, 2017, Rep. Ro Khanna (CA-17) introduced H.Con.Res. 81, legislation aimed at ending the unauthorized U.S. role in the war in Yemen. A compromise bill, H.Res. 599, which specifically acknowledged that Congress never authorized U.S. military support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, was negotiated and passed in the House in a vote of 366-30 on November 13, 2017.
On March 20, 2018, the Senate took a procedural vote on similar legislation invoking the War Powers Act in an effort to end the unauthorized U.S. role in the war in Yemen. A motion to table a motion to discharge the legislation, S.J.Res. 54, passed 55-44, preventing the legislation from moving forward. Late last year, Rep. Khanna worked to bring up H.Con.Res. 81 for a vote, but Paul Ryan added a rule to the Farm bill that prevented Khanna’s legislation from coming to a vote. On December 13, 2018, the Senate passed S.J.Res. 54 in a vote of 56-41. On February 13, the House passed H.J.Res. 37 directing the president to withdraw U.S. support for the war in Yemen, but because it passed with an amendment that was not germane to the underlying resolution, Senate leadership was able to de-privilege the House version of the resolution, forcing the Senate to pass a clean version to send back to the House for another vote.
Founded in 1957, Peace Action (formerly SANE/Freeze), the United States’ largest peace and disarmament organization, with over 100,000 paid members and nearly 100 chapters in 36 states, works to abolish nuclear weapons, promote government spending priorities that support human needs, encourage real security through international cooperation and human rights and support nonmilitary solutions to international conflicts. The public may learn more and take action at www.PeaceAction.org.