Senate fails to override Trump's veto of bill that would prevent arms sales to Saudi Arabia

Posted at 9:11 PM, Jul 29, 2019

The Senate on Monday failed to override President Donald Trump's veto on three joint resolutions prohibiting arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The resolutions, which passed Congress with bipartisan support , were viewed as a rebuke of Trump's polices toward the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the wake of journalist Jamal Khashoggi's murder last year, but senators had not been expected to have the votes needed to successfully override the vetoes.

Earlier this month, the President vetoed the measures, rejecting an attempt by lawmakers to halt controversial weapons transfers.

The override vote came two months after the Trump administration moved to declare an emergency to bypass Congress and expedite billions of dollars in arms sales to various countries -- including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates -- citing the need to deter what it called "the malign influence" of Iran throughout the Middle East.

In announcing his veto of the joint resolutions, Trump said that each resolution "would weaken America's global competitiveness and damage the important relationships we share with our allies and partners."

In a veto message on one of the measures, Trump said , "the joint resolution would hamper the ability of the United States to sustain and shape critical security cooperation activities."

The President went on to say that it would also "damage the credibility of the United States as a reliable partner by signaling that we are willing to abandon our partners and allies at the very moment when threats to them are increasing."

But pushback to the President's foreign policy approach toward Saudi Arabia has garnered bipartisan support.

In addition to widespread outrage on Capitol Hill following the killing of Khashoggi, lawmakers from both parties have also expressed deep reservations about US support for the Kingdom's war in Yemen.

At the start of May, the Senate failed to override Trump's veto on a bipartisan measure that would have reined in US military support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen that has killed thousands of civilians.

Despite the loss, critics of the Yemen war vowed to keep fighting to end US involvement, arguing it is immoral to participate in the war that has created a humanitarian crisis.

Sen. Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat, pointed to Khashoggi's murder, the role the Saudis are playing in the Yemen civil war and the lack of freedom of speech protections as reasons why the President shouldn't have vetoed Congress' actions.

"Instead of holding the Saudis accountable, this administration instead continues to provide them a blank check," Murphy said. "I'll be pursuing legislation in September that holds the Saudis accountable and allows Congress to vote on the totality of our security assistance to Saudi Arabia."

This story has been updated with additional developments Monday.