Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) tried his darnedest to partially halt Trump’s Saudi weapons deal. He was able to raise a great deal of bipartisan support, but his amendment failed by a closer-than-anticipated 47-53 vote on Tuesday.
However, Paul did not go down without a fight. He gave quick but powerful remarks hearkening back to his epic Drone filibuster of 2013 as well as his father’s legendary speeches delivered from the House floor.
“[Saudi Arabia] bombed and killed 125 civilians at a funeral. They wounded 500. This was no mistake, there was no error. This was them pointedly dropping the bombs on civilians,” Paul said on the Senate floor while pushing his doomed proposal against Trump’s Saudi weapons deal.
Paul’s rebuke of Saudi Arabia was about as powerful as it could possibly be. He claims that the Islamic dictatorship operating entirely under Sharia Law supports ISIS, and implores America to begin cutting ties to this nation that is among the world leaders in human rights abuses.
“You can’t take a bible into Saudi Arabia. You can’t visit their major cities. We can’t make them be like us, but we don’t have to encourage their behavior by giving them weapons that may well fall into the hands of people who are our enemies,” Paul said.
Ultimately, five Senate Democrats sided with President Trump and the Saudis to sabotage Paul’s amendment. Sens. Bill Nelson, Claire McCaskill, Joe Manchin, Joe Donnelly, and Mark Warner decided that feeding the war machine was more important than potentially saving human life.
The silver lining is Paul’s bipartisan coalition to block profligate weapons deals is growing in power during the Trump era. Because of fierce Democratic partisanship, more legislators than ever before are willing to sign onto plans such as Paul’s amendment. This could provide a much needed check to stop countries like the Saudis and others from being enriched by Trump’s expansionist foreign policy.
“This is an important message to the Saudis that we are all watching,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) said. “And if they continue to target civilians and they continue to stop humanitarian aid from getting into Yemen, this vote will continue to go in the wrong direction for them.”