Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has assembled an impressive bipartisan coalition in the Senate to block part of President Trump’s Saudi weapons deal. Paul is concerned that the deal may cause blowback due to an ongoing Saudi Arabian military conflict with Yemen, and prominent Democrats share his concerns.
“We need to send the Saudis a message that they need to get serious about the humanitarian nightmare inside Yemen,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) said. “Unfortunately, the administration has not used these weapons sales to apply that conditionality. But a strong message from the U.S. Senate that they don’t have a blank check from the Congress would be very important.”
Murphy is leading the Democratic wing of bipartisan resistance to Trump’s weapons deal with the Saudis, which is the biggest in American history. It is worth $110 billion immediately and could increase to as much as $360 billion over the decade. This all but ensures that American-brokered arms will be used to commit atrocities in Yemen, where Saudis have been using chemical weapons and deliberately targeting civilians. Paul believes that Trump’s Saudi weapons deal is tantamount to supporting aggressive war against Yemen.
“I think, if you were to ask the general public, should we be at war in Yemen or supporting war in Yemen, I think most people would say, ‘where?’” Paul said. “I think there should be a valid debate on it.”
Paul is intent upon holding Trump to his America First mandate, and he has serious support from across the aisle. According to a Politico report, Sens. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Jeff Merkley’s (D-OR) have pledged to support a Paul-Murphy disapproval measure with Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) still on the fence at the present time.
“It’s going to be a close vote,” Murphy said.
In this instance, Paul has used fierce partisanship to his advantage. He has been able to garner far more support from across the aisle than he did during similar efforts to block former President Obama’s Saudi weapons deals. The Senate is expected to vote on the measure sometime next week.