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Bernie Sanders and Ro Khanna slam Trump for refusing to end the 'horrific war in Yemen' with second veto of his presidency

April 17, 2019
In The News

President Donald Trump on Tuesday issued the second veto of his presidency after Congress in April passed a resolution defying his stance on US support for the Saudi-led coalition in the Yemen conflict.

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who led the charge on this resolution, slammed Trump for his decision.

"The people of Yemen desperately need humanitarian help, not more bombs," Sanders said in a tweet Tuesday night. "I am disappointed, but not surprised, that Trump has rejected the bi-partisan resolution to end U.S. involvement in the horrific war in Yemen."

Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna of California, who spearheaded efforts on the resolution in the House, told INSIDER, "This is very sad and a missed opportunity by the president to stand up for the Constitution. He ignored the views of his allies like Rand Paul, Mark Meadows, and Matt Gaetz, all of whom voted against endless war and these interventions."

After the resolution passed in the House, Khanna and a bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers wrote a letter urging Trump to sign the resolution.

Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement:

"This is a huge mistake. The civil war in Yemen is a humanitarian crisis, and we have no business still being a part of it. Republicans and Democrats in Congress voted overwhelmingly to get out and send a strong message to the Saudi government that they can no longer take our alliance for granted."

Murphy added: "I've been calling on the United States to get out of the civil war in Yemen for the last four years, and this veto won't stop me."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said of the Saudi-led war in Yemen, "this conflict must end, now. The House of Representatives calls on the President to put peace before politics, and work with us to advance an enduring solution to end this crisis and save lives."

In terms of what can be done next, Khanna added, "The most urgent task now is for the United States to call on the Saudis to lift the blockade in Yemen so 14 million civilians don't face famine."

The president justified his veto by describing the Yemen resolution as a "dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities."

Trump's first veto came after Congress rebuked him and voted to block his national-emergency declaration to obtain funding for a border wall.

The resolution, sponsored by Sanders, passed in the Senate in March, and the House followed suit earlier this month.

"Today we took a clear stand against war and famine and for Congress' war powers by voting to end our complicity in the war in Yemen," Sanders said in a tweet after the vote. "This is just the beginning of a national debate over when and where we go to war and Congress' authority over those interventions."

The push for the US to end its support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen gained significant momentum after the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.

Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist who moved to the US and wrote columns for The Washington Post, was brutally killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2. His death sparked outrage worldwide and inspired many US lawmakers to champion a reevaluation of the US-Saudi relations.

The CIA reportedly concluded Khashoggi's death was ordered by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto ruler of the kingdom. Trump has stood by Crown Prince Mohammed and the Saudi government in the wake of Khashoggi's killing, and has largely ignored pressure from lawmakers, including top Republicans, to do more.

The passage of the Yemen resolution on Thursday stands as a rebuke of Trump's foreign policy, particularly his controversial reaction to Khashoggi's killing.

The resolution passed by a 247-175 vote, primarily along party lines. It marked the first time in history a resolution invoking the War Powers Act of 1973 was passed in both chambers of Congress.

Responding to the resolution's success in the House in early April, Khanna in a tweet said, "Today, the House of Representatives took a clear stand against war and famine by voting to end our complicity in the war in Yemen. This is the first time in the history of this nation that a War Powers Resolution has passed the House and Senate & made it to the President's desk."

The passage of this resolution highlights growing anti-interventionist sentiments in Congress, particularly among Democrats. It also represents Congress reasserting its war powers and comes as many lawmakers question the broad authority that's been granted to presidents in the post-9/11 world when it comes to armed conflict.

The Yemen conflict has generated the worst humanitarian crisis. Approximately 14 million people are facing starvation because of the conflict, which just entered its fifth year, and it's estimated to have killed about 60,000 people.