By invoking the Arms Export Control Act of 1976, U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Wednesday forced a vote in the U.S. Senate on blocking the $1.15 billion U.S. sale of 153 Abrams tanks and associated major defense articles to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. 27 senators supported allowing a full vote on the joint resolution of disapproval to halt the sale, while 71 voted to prevent further debate on the bill. Murphy and Paul were joined by U.S. Senators Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah).

“Our resolution may not have passed today, but this debate was very important in and of itself. For the first time in recent history, the Senate debated whether continued, unquestioned arms sales to the Saudis serves America’s national interest,” said Murphy. “We knew going in that this would be an uphill climb, but we sent a clear message today that Saudi Arabia will take to heart if it values our partnership.  And we raised awareness among our colleagues about a war inside Yemen that up until this week has been ignored by Congress. U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s wars cannot be unconditional, especially when civilians are being killed and terrorist organizations are growing stronger. Congress is watching and we will not sit on the sidelines.”

"Today, a growing coalition of legislators refused to sit idly by while the President inserts America into another war and an escalating arms race in an unstable region without congressional authorization or debate," said Paul. “As violent jihadists attack the West, the Saudis continue to fund madrassas that preach hatred and violence against the West. The Founders did not entrust the power to initiate war to the legislature lightly. Today does not mark an end, but an important next step in reclaiming Congress’ rightful constitutional role in foreign policy.”

“Thousands of civilians have been killed or wounded in the U.S.-backed war in Yemen,” said Franken. “This is a tragedy, and it’s not one that we should continue to support. Our resolution would have stopped a $1.15 billion U.S. arms sale to the Saudis, and while it unfortunately was not passed, the very fact that we voted on it sends a strong message to Saudi Arabia: that the United States is not going to turn a blind eye to the indiscriminate killing of men, women, and children.”

“Today, the United States Senate squandered a rare and important opportunity to have a substantive and consequential debate about America’s ongoing involvement in the Yemeni civil war,” said Lee. "This was more than just a missed opportunity – it was a gross dereliction of duty. Members of Congress in both chambers have a responsibility to the American people to carefully evaluate our interventions abroad, and to participate in the process of defining America’s national interests and developing a foreign policy to pursue those interests. Senator Paul’s resolution gave us a chance to do our jobs today, and unfortunately, we failed to rise to the occasion.”

Click HERE to read the joint resolution of disapproval in its entirety.