WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, joined legislation led by U.S. Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member, and Todd Young (R-Ind.)—along with Senators Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), and Susan Collins (R-Maine) yesterday in introducing the Saudi Arabia Accountability and Yemen Act of 2019, comprehensive legislation to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for the murder of U.S. resident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and the Saudi-led coalition for its role in the devastating conflict in Yemen. The bill, which was originally introduced in 2018, prohibits certain arms sales to Saudi Arabia, as well as in-flight refueling of Saudi coalition aircraft.
The introduction of the Saudi Arabia Accountability and Yemen Act coincides with the deadline for the Trump Administration to determine whether Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman is personally responsible for the murder of Mr. Khashoggi. In October, ranking member Menendez and then-chairman Corker triggered the investigation under the authorities of the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act – a law that gives the President 120 days to determine whether a foreign individual is responsible for extrajudicial killings, and whether the President intends to impose sanctions on that person. The senators’ legislation also comes on the heels of a CNN investigation about U.S.-made military equipment sold to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates ending up in the hands of Al-Qaeda and other adversaries of the United States.
“The United States’ relationship with Saudi Arabia is completely out of balance, to the detriment of our national interests and values. This bill makes clear that there will be no ‘back to normal’ until there is real accountability for the brutal killing of Jamal Khashoggi and, finally, an end to Mohammed bin Salman’s reckless war in Yemen. The American military, American weapons, America’s moral standing – none of these has any place in perpetuating this misbegotten war,” said Murphy.
“Seeing as the Trump Administration has no intention of insisting on full accountability for Mr. Khashoggi’s murderers, it is time for Congress to step in and impose real consequences to fundamentally reexamine our relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and with the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen,” said Menendez. “But beyond preventing President Trump from sweeping Mr. Khashoggi’s murder under the rug, this comprehensive legislation is based on the idea that America’s leadership on the global stage must always be driven by a sense of purpose and moral clarity. We are reasserting that moral clarity by ending U.S. in-flight refueling for the Saudi-led Coalition’s operations in Yemen, suspending sales of certain weapons and hopefully preventing the tragic loss of more human life. As I warned the administration last year, we will not accept the killings of more civilians and journalists with impunity and without consequence.”
“The need to end the civil war and address the world’s worst humanitarian crisis in Yemen remains dire. This legislation provides the United States leverage it should use to push all parties in Yemen to engage in good faith and urgent negotiations. Our national security interests and our humanitarian principles demand nothing less,” said Young.
Last week, Murphy reintroduced a joint resolution with U.S. Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) to remove U.S. Armed Forces from hostilities between the Saudi-led coalition and the Houthis in Yemen pursuant to the War Powers Act. The resolution passed 56-41. This was the first time since the War Powers Act became law in 1973 that the U.S. Senate successfully passed a resolution pursuant to the law.
Late last year, the Senate unanimously passed a Resolution naming Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as "responsible" for the slaying of Jamal Khashoggi.
A copy of the Saudi Arabia Accountability and Yemen Act can be found here. Key elements of this legislation include:
- Mandatory sanctions on persons responsible for the death of Jamal Khashoggi
- Prohibition on certain weapons sales to Saudi Arabia
- Prohibition on U.S. refueling of Saudi Coalition Aircraft engaged in the civil war in Yemen
- Sanctions for persons blocking humanitarian access in Yemen
- Sanctions for persons supporting the Houthis in Yemen
- Accountability report for all actors in Yemen in violation of international war or guilty of war crimes and harm to civilians
- Report on human rights in Saudi Arabia