WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), top Democrat on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia, and Counterterrorism, on Monday made the following statement after the Senate failed to override the President’s veto of legislation to block recent arm sales to Saudi Arabia:
“It’s difficult to accept Saudi Arabia as a trusted ally of the United States right now. They continue to deny their role in Khashoggi’s murder. They are still perpetuating the civil war in Yemen while refusing to negotiate a political solution. And they aren't stopping arresting more high-profile critics and torturing our own citizens who are held without charges. That’s exactly why Congress voted to block the recent arms sales to the Kingdom and tried to reset this relationship in a way that’s so desperately needed,” said Murphy. “Instead of holding the Saudis accountable, this administration instead continues to provide them a blank check. I’ll be pursuing legislation in September that holds the Saudis accountable and allows Congress to vote on the totality of our security assistance to Saudi Arabia.”
In June, after the administration announced their arms sale to Saudi Arabia, Murphy and U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-Ind.) introduced a privileged resolution to begin the process of forcing a vote on arms sales and other security assistance to Saudi Arabia. This resolution came after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared an emergency last month to sell arms to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates totaling $8.1 billion without congressional approval. It also acts as a check on presidential power and reasserts Congress’ role in setting U.S. foreign policy.
Murphy and Young’s resolution draws upon Section 502B(c) of the Foreign Assistance Act which allows Congress to vote to request information on a particular country’s human rights practices within 30 days. After receipt of this report, Congress can then vote on terminating or restricting security assistance. This allows for a forced vote on any aspect of U.S. security assistance to Saudi Arabia, which could include broad categories of future arms sales in addition to the 22 specific sales notified in May. Murphy and Young can force a floor vote on the motion to discharge from the Committee at any time.