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House lawmakers introduce bill to end US support in Yemen civil war

September 26, 2018
In The News

Two dozen House lawmakers on Wednesday officially introduced a War Powers resolution to end U.S. military involvement in Yemen's civil war.

"One year later, the bloodshed continues with widespread destruction and disease contributing to the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. U.S.-fueled planes continue to drop U.S.-made bombs on innocent victims,” the resolution's lead sponsor, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), said in a statement Wednesday.

“This time around, our coalition to end the war has expanded and the call for withdrawing U.S. involvement is louder,” he added. Khanna tried to force a vote on a similar resolution last year.

Under the War Powers Act, the resolution becomes “privileged,” allowing lawmakers to force a vote on it.

Khanna and a group of 10 House Democrats, including the House Armed Services Committee ranking member Adam Smith (D-Wash.), previously announced their intention to introduce the resolution earlier this month.

The resolution introduced Wednesday gained support from more top Democrats, including House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and House Foreign Affairs Committee ranking member Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.).

Two Republicans, Reps. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) and Walter Jones (R-N.C.), are also co-sponsoring. The pair are typically outliers in their party on foreign policy.

The United States supports a Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen’s civil war against Iran-backed Houthi rebels. U.S. support includes aerial refueling, intelligence sharing and arms sales.

Earlier this month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo allowed U.S. refueling to continue by certifying to Congress that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are taking steps to protect civilians, alleviate the humanitarian crisis and end the war.

Congressional opposition to U.S. involvement in the war has grown as the civilian death toll has mounted in attacks largely blamed on coalition airstrikes. On Tuesday, the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data project reported that civilian deaths have seen a 164 percent increase since June.

“The impact of the Saudi-coalition’s actions on the dire humanitarian crisis is undeniable,” Smith said in a statement Wednesday. “The U.S. should be aggressively pushing a peaceful solution to end this civil war instead of supporting the Saudi-led coalition military campaign that has only destabilized the crisis further. We must make it clear that U.S. should not be choosing sides in this civil war while the people of Yemen continue to suffer.”

Leadership resisted bringing Khanna's War Powers resolution to a vote last year, despite its privilege status. Khanna eventually negotiated with Democratic and Republican leadership to instead get a vote on a non-binding resolution that passed. The resolution called U.S. military involvement in the war unauthorized.

In introducing Wednesday's resolution, Khanna said he was confident that outcome won’t happen again.

“I am confident the House Republican leadership will allow this resolution to come to a vote,” he said, “and that members of the House will hear from their constituents in support of our position against this unauthorized war contributing to Yemen’s humanitarian catastrophe.”

The resolution is also co-sponsored by Democratic Reps. Mark Pocan (Wis.), Jim McGovern (Mass.), Raul Grijalva (Ariz.), Jan Schakowsky (Ill.), Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii), Michael Capuano (Mass.), Yvette Clarke (N.Y.), Ted Lieu (Calif.), Barbara Lee (Calif.), Beto O’Rourke (Texas), Adriano Espaillat (N.Y.), Joe Kennedy (Mass.), Joe Courtney (Conn.), Gwen Moore (Wis.), Debbie Dingell (Mich.), Pramila Jayapal (Wash.), Peter DeFazio (Ore.) and Earl Blumenauer (Ore.).