Wednesday, 18 September, 2019

US House votes to block 'emergency' arms sale to Saudi Arabia

Many members of Congress have been frustrated by what they see as President Donald Trump's embrace of Saudi Arabia House Votes to Block Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia, UAE
Patty Aguilar | 20 July, 2019, 09:38

Congress is heading for a showdown with US President Donald Trump after the House voted on Wednesday to block his administration from selling billions of dollars in weapons and maintenance support to Saudi Arabia.

Trump, who has sought to forge closer ties with Riyadh, has pledged to veto the resolutions of disapproval that passed the Democratic-led House largely along party lines.

The votes are also meant to punish Saudi Arabia over the killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

While the US Congress can not override Trump's veto, it reflects the differing takes on Saudi Arabia which are held by the legislature and the executive in the United States.

American arms control law enables Congress to dismiss weapon sales of global nations but an exemption in arms law enables the president to waive the arms assistance for U.S. congressional approval by declaring a state of a national security emergency.

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Britain said it was urgently seeking further information after a British-flagged tanker took a sudden turn into Iranian waters. He called on the British government to do "whatever is necessary" to ensure the safe and swift return of the ship's crew.

Engel and others blasted that as a "phony emergency" used to make an end-run around Congress.

His Republican colleague, however, countered that prohibiting the licenses would stop the US from "providing our partners with the arms they need to defend themselves". Four Republicans broke ranks to vote for the motions, while there were no detractors among Democrats joined by one Independent.

"These weapons won't counter Iranian threats". It's unlikely supporters can muster the congressional super-majority that would be needed to override an anticipated Trump veto.

The White House has argued the measures would jeopardize the U.S. -Saudi alliance, a cornerstone of the Trump administration's campaign to isolate Iran.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, and US President Donald Trump whisper during a Cabinet meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House, in Washington, July 16, 2019.

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