Congress is moving ahead with legislation to block $8 billion of arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates after the Trump administration declared an emergency to bypass Congress and move ahead with the controversial sale over lawmakers objections given the two countries human rights records.
Interested in Saudi Arabia?Add Saudi Arabia as an interest to stay up to date on the latest Saudi Arabia news, video, and analysis from ABC News.Saudi ArabiaAdd InterestAssistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs R. Clarke Cooper was called up to defend the decision Wednesday, but faced a grilling from both Republicans and Democrats on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
While the Trump administration has defended the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia, Congress has said business as usual must end, in particular because of the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents and the Saudi and Emirati-led coalitions bombing campaign in Yemen.Clarke said the growing threat from Iran and its ally the Houthi rebels fighting the coalition-backed government in Yemen and the administrations desire to improve Saudi and Emirati readiness and reassure them of U.
S. support predicated an emergency.(MORE: Trump admin bypassing Congress with $8 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates)
Mohammed Hamoud/Getty ImagesPeople are seen near houses a day after they were hit by airstrikes carried out by the Saudi-led coalition that left a reported six people killed and more than 40 others injured including children and women on May 17, 2019, in Sanaa, Yemen.
There is no emergency. Its phony, its made up, and its an abuse of the law -- once again, attempting to cut Congress out of the whole picture, said the committees chair, Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y. This is not a dictatorship. We dont rule this country by fiat ... Remember when you were in school and you learned checks and balances? Congress is a coequal branch of government.
The committees highest-ranking Republican, Rep. Mike McCaul, called the move unfortunate and said he was blindsided by it after talking to National Security Adviser John Bolton a week prior to the emergency declaration. He and Engel both questioned how it was an emergency if the transfer of most of these weapons would take months, if not years in some cases -- and why the administration didnt give Congress a formal 30-day notice instead to allow it to vote on the sales.
Congress is typically first informally notified about an arms sale, allowing lawmakers a chance to work with an administration about any concerns. Once those concerns are settled, the State Department makes a formal notification, giving Congress 30 days to pass a resolution of disapproval if they choose.
. Otherwise, the sale gets the green light.(MORE: Trump administration approved 2 nuclear deals to Saudi Arabia after Khashoggi was killed)Some members had delayed these sales because of their concerns over the Saudi and Emirati coalitions.....