Mohammed bin Salman [File: Evan Vucci/AP Photo]
[The Associated Press] title=Trump official grilled over $8bn emergency arms sale to Saudis>President Donald Trump shows a chart highlighting arms sales to Saudi Arabia during a meeting with Saudi Crown Prince <span>Mohammed bin Salman</span> [File: Evan Vucci/AP Photo] [The Associated Press] Washington, DC - A senior US State Department official seeking to justify President Donald Trumps use of emergency powers to bypass congressional approval of an eight-billion-dollar arms sale to Saudi Arabia faced criticism from members of Congress on Wednesday in advance of a likely vote of disapproval of the deal next week.
R Clarke Cooper, the State Departments assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, appeared before the House Foreign Affairs Committee to defend the arms sales cleared by Trumps emergency declaration last month, which waived a 30-day congressional review required by the US Arms Export Control Act of 1976.
In declaring an emergency, the Trump administration cited growing tensions with Iran. Democrats on the House panel said Trumps action violated the law because there was no actual emergency. They also said the move sends a message that the US will tolerate human rights abuses by Saudi Arabia and civilian casualties in Yemen so long as Riyadh spends billions on American weapons.
There is no emergency. Its phony. Its made up. And its an abuse of the law, said Representative Eliot Engel, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. In the US Senate, where at least four Republicans will join Democrats to oppose the sale, a vote of disapproval of the arms deal is likely as soon as next week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters on Tuesday.
190605154958283Cooper said the arms sales, combined with an escalation of US military posture in the Gulf region, were needed to counter increasing threats from Iran to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, as well as Americans in the region. These malign - even provocative actions mark a new evolution of the threat Iran poses to the security of hundreds of thousands of Americans who live and work in the Gulf states, and to the security of the region and our partners, Cooper said.
Some Republicans also expressed outrage at the Trump administrations move to bypass Congress. You tell us that you want to send a message with this to our adversaries. It appears that your adversary is Congress and the message is loud and clear: We will stretch every statute beyond the breaking point in order to make the Congress irrelevant to the decision-making process, said Representative Brad Sherman, a Democrat.
. The arms sales youre talking about are controversial. There is significant opposition in Congress. And rather than confront that, you go around it, Sherman added.US-Saudi relationship in its current form is immoralUS politicians are concerned about Saudi-UAE use of precision-guided missiles.....