Senate rejects bid to end USA support for Saudi campaign in Yemen

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with contributor Norah O'Donnell CBS NEWS

WASHINGTON ― The Senate voted Tuesday afternoon against taking up a resolution to end USA military support for a Saudi-led coalition that has killed thousands of civilians in Yemen ― which means the controversial policy will continue, but so will the growing Capitol Hill debate about it.

Moreover, the vote coincided with a White House meeting between Donald Trump and Saudi Arabia's crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, at which the president lauded USA defense sales to Saudi Arabia. The Trump administration, like its predecessor, insists such involvement doesn't require Congressional authorization.

The Senate voted 55-44 against the resolution, which was introduced three weeks ago by Vermont Senator and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and Senators Mike Lee and Chris Murphy to end American military assistance in the Saudi-led coalition's campaign against Houthi rebels.

Once the Senate reconvenes on Tuesday, the lawmakers could have up to four hours of debate; therefore, a vote is expected at approximately 4:15 pm.

"I hope what will happen is that we will not in our haste make a mistake that we'll come to regret", said Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn of Texas, according to The Hill.

But neither Thebani's government troops, which are backed by a Saudi Arabia-led military coalition, nor their opponents, the rebel group known as the Houthis, have shown they have the military strength to prevail.

The Saudi-led military coalition has enjoyed logistic and intelligence support from the United Kingdom and the US.

The U.S. refuels coalition warplanes, shares intelligence with the Saudis and provides them with munitions used in the air war. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis warned lawmakers earlier in March that cutting USA military assistance would risk Washington's relationship with Riyadh and embolden Iran.

"For far too long, Congress under Democratic and Republican administrations has abdicated its constitutional role in authorizing war", Sanders said in a speech on the Senate floor before the vote. They also said U.S. involvement in Yemen was needed to counter the threat from Iran.

"Saudi Arabia is an indispensable partner in the region, without which the United States would be less successful", Lee said.

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