While 44 U.S. Senators on Tuesday were applauded by peace groups for voting in favor of a resolution that would have allowed Congress to begin reclaiming its war-making authority and ended the U.S. military’s backing of Saudi Arabia’s assault on Yemen, it was ultimately not enough to overcome entrenched opposition from the 45 Republicans and 10 Democrats who voted against it.
Introduced by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), and Mike Lee (R-Utah), the resolution (SJ Res. 54) would have ended the tacit military support—including targeting assistance, refueling, and intelligence sharing—of the Saudi’s campaign to wage war on Yemen, a nation currently embroiled in a civil war and experiencing one of the worst humanitarian crises on the planet.
The final tally was 55-44 against the resolution, with only Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) not casting a vote. While five Republicans voted for the measure, the 10 Democrats senators who joined with the Republican majority to block it were: Coons (D-DE); Cortez Masto (D-NV); Donnelly (D-IN); Heitkamp (D-ND); Jones (D-AL); Manchin (D-WV); Menendez (D-NJ); Nelson (D-FL); Reed (D-RI); and Whitehouse (D-RI).
Anti-war groups, while disappointed with the outcome, celebrated the vote and heralded it as an important step in terms of getting congressional lawmakers to final assert themselves against an executive branch that has been allowed to wage war with nearly no restraint over the last 17 years.
“Because of the leadership put forth by Sens. Bernie Sanders, Mike Lee, and Chris Murphy — and the tireless advocacy of hundreds of thousands of Americans — the U.S. Senate was today finally forced to confront America’s unauthorized role in Yemen’s deadly civil war,” Kate Kizer, policy director for Win Without War, in a statement.
“We commend the 44 Senators who agreed that U.S. military support for the Saudi-led coalition is unconstitutional, counterproductive, and doesn’t serve U.S. national security interests,” she added. “Today’s vote should serve as a sober reminder to Saudi Arabia that it must immediately move to resolve this conflict diplomatically, and that American support for its war in Yemen is not unlimited.”
Prior to the vote Bernie Sanders spoke on the chamber floor to outline his position and to note the 15th anniversary of the start of the Iraq War:
Afterwards he tweeted his disappointment with the final tally:
I'm deeply disappointed that Congress again abdicated its constitutional duty to authorize war. Over and over, Congress has sat back and failed to ask the hard questions as administrations have misled us into conflicts, including Vietnam and Iraq, with disastrous consequences.
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) March 20, 2018
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