House blocks resolution to end US military support in Yemen war
House Republicans have officially blocked a vote on a resolution that would end all U.S. military support to the Saudi Arabia-led-coalition in Yemen’s ongoing war.
On Wednesday afternoon, the House approved 201-187, largely on party lines, a rule for floor debate on an unrelated bill that would take the gray wolf off the endanger species list. Included in the rule was a provision that strips the Yemen resolution of its so-called privilege status.
Privilege means the sponsors of the resolution could theoretically have forced a vote on it. Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), backed by top Democrats, introduced the resolution in September and invoked the War Powers Act to give it privilege status.
“Let’s be very clear: This is unprecedented in American history,” Khanna said on the House floor Wednesday. “What the majority is saying is that if the president of the United States and the Speaker believe we should be in war, we should be at war.”
On Friday night, the Trump administration announced the U.S. military would no longer provide aerial refueling for Saudi coalition planes, one of the most visible and controversial aspects of U.S. support for the coalition.
The Pentagon and Riyadh framed the announcement as a Saudi decision, saying they now have the capability to refuel their own planes.
But the decision came after mounting congressional pressure. U.S. lawmakers have been increasingly concerned about the civilian death toll in the war. U.S.-Saudi relations have also come increasing under scrutiny after the October killing of U.S.-based journalist and Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi.
Critics of U.S. support for the Saudis were pleased with the decision on aerial refueling, but said all U.S. military support for the coalition must end.
The United States provides the coalition other logistics and intelligence, as well as billions of dollars in arms sales.
Republicans argued Khanna’s resolution was unnecessary after Friday’s announcement.
They also argued Democrats could revive the issue as they have vowed to do when they take control of the House in January.
“In a few short weeks, the Democrats will assume the majority. They’ll be able to hold all the hearings and markups and votes that they want on this matter,” Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.) said on the House floor. “So forcing this type of vote now in the remainder of this Congress, in my humble opinion, is unnecessary.”
Khanna said it was imperative not to wait until January.
“500,000 children will die in a matter of months. They don’t have aid. They don’t have nutrition,” he said. “And when the history of Congress is written, they’re not going to say [Rep.] Jim McGovern [D-Mass.] did this or Ro Khanna did this or Newhouse did this. They’re going to say how the did the Congress not allow a vote while hundreds of thousands of kids were not allowed food and medicine.”