Congress is moving forward with legislation to block $8 billion in arms sale to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates after the Trump administration declared an “emergency” to bypass Congress and move forward with the controversial sale by the objections of the legislators, given that the two countries Registers of rights.
Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs, R. Clarke Cooper, was called to defend the decision on Wednesday, but faced a barrage of Republicans and Democrats in the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Although the Trump government has defended the US relationship with Saudi Arabia, Congress has said that business as usual must end, in particular due to the assassination of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents and the bombing campaign of the coalition led by the Emirates and Saudi Arabia in Yemen.
Clarke said the growing threat from Iran and its ally are the Houthi rebels fighting against the coalition-backed government in Yemen and the administration’s desire to improve the “disposition” of Saudis and Emiratis and to assure them that the support of the United States predicted an emergency.
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“There is no emergency, it is false, it is fixed and it is an abuse of the law, once again, try to eliminate Congress from the whole picture,” said committee chairman, Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y. “This is not a dictatorship, we do not rule this country by fiduciary order … Do you remember when you were in school and you learned the checks and balances? Congress is an equal branch of government.”
The highest-ranking Republican representative on the committee, Rep. Mike McCaul, said the measure was “unfortunate” and said he had surprised him after speaking with national security adviser John Bolton a week before the emergency declaration. Both he and Engel wondered if it was an emergency if the transfer of most of these weapons would take months, but years in some cases, and why the administration did not give Congress a formal 30-day notification instead of allowing it. Vote on sales.
Some Republicans have criticized President Donald Trump’s decision to push ahead with $8 billion in arms sale to Saudi Arabia and other Mideast countries despite congressional opposition. They have also urged stronger consequences for the kingdom’s role in the killing of columnist Jamal Khashoggi.