Today, U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), and Mike Lee (R-Utah) introduced a joint resolution of disapproval, S.J.Res 39, to block the U.S. sale of Abrams tanks and associated major defense articles to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Pentagon announced the proposed sale, totaling $1.15 billion, in August.
“Saudi Arabia is an important partner, but their war in Yemen, funded by the U.S., has become a disaster that is making our country less safe every day,” said Murphy. “Thousands of civilians are being killed, and terrorist groups inside the country, like al Qaeda and ISIS, are getting stronger. Until the Saudis' conduct changes, the U.S. should put a pause on further arms sales."
“Selling $1.15 billion in tanks, guns, ammunition, and more to a country with a poor human rights record embroiled in a bitter war is a recipe for disaster and an escalation of an ongoing arms race in the region,” said Paul.
“The Obama Administration has recently offered over a billion dollars in weaponry to Saudi Arabia, and I think it’s in America’s best interest to call a timeout on this sale,” said Franken. “In Yemen, a Saudi coalition of fighters is unjustly killing civilians while at the same time not doing enough to address terrorism. This is dangerous for the Middle East, for our other allies, and for our nation, which is why I’m helping to introduce this bipartisan resolution.”
“Unbeknownst to many Americans, their military has been engaged in the civil war in Yemen throughout this year with very little oversight or authorization from their representatives in Congress,” said Lee. “I am cosponsoring this resolution because I believe it is our responsibility as stewards of our constituents’ interests to have a public discussion and debate on the merits - or lack thereof - of our involvement in this conflict and the broader Middle East. This presents Congress with an opportunity to prove we can do our jobs in a bipartisan manner and put the safety and security of the American people first. It will also allow us to work with the Saudis to recalibrate our alliance towards more productive and enduring achievements.”
In addition to today’s Senate action, 64 members of the U.S. House of Representatives signed a letter to President Obama in August urging him to delay the sale. The House letter and today’s joint resolution are attached.
The Arms Export Control Act of 1976 provides the special procedures whereby a Senator can force a vote on an arms sale by the President. Today’s introduction of the joint resolution of disapproval allows Senators Paul, Murphy, Franken, and Lee, along with other members of Congress, to force a vote on blocking the Saudi arms sale.