The House voted 201-87 to shut down debate Wednesday on Rep. Ro Khanna's (D-CA) resolution on the US role in in Yemen under the War Powers Act. "In American history… never, never has the speaker of the House and the majority denied a member of Congress a vote on matters of war and peace," Khanna said Thursday in remarks to Democracy Now.
"This is basically rendering ineffectual the War Powers Act," Khanna said, referring to the law passed in 1973 that was intended to keep the president from committing the American military to an armed conflict without the consent of Congress.
"And what the majority is saying, [is] that if the president of the United States and the speaker believe we should be in war, we should be in war; it doesn't matter what members of Congress think."
"This is what people hate about Congress. What the Republicans did, they wanted to have a resolution that would allow for hunting of wolves and not have wolves be listed on the Endangered Species Act. And they knew many Republicans would want to vote for that, and so they linked a vote on my resolution to the vote on wolves so that Republicans would vote against my resolution coming to the floor, if they agreed with the position on wolves. It was a parliamentary maneuver. And we've never seen those kind of shenanigans with a war powers resolution."
Magnifying the severity of the issue is the fact that the United Nations has said Yemen is suffering from the world's worst humanitarian crisis, and it's now in its fourth year. Some 14 million Yemenis are on the brink of starvation from the Saudi coalition's tactics to prevent food from being imported into the country. In September, David Beasley of the World Food Programme warned that "time is running out" to ward off imminent famine.
The US has supported the coalition by supplying equipment and munitions, sharing some
intelligence and providing logistics support.
"Now, bracket the politics. I believe the coalition has been more to blame than the Houthis. The Houthis don't have clean hands. They are backed, in some cases, by Iran. But put aside the politics. Everyone, whether you're more sympathetic to the coalition or more sympathetic to the Houthis, knows that there needs to be an immediate cessation of violence. And it's the Saudis that are bombing the ports, that aren't allowing food and medicine in. All this resolution would have done is stopped that violence to allow humanitarian aid in," Khanna said Thursday on Democracy Now.
A surprising coalition of US lawmakers has rallied around the issue. Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah), Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and are reportedly planning to force a vote in the upper chamber of the legislature to end US involvement in Yemen after the Thanksgiving recess, according to Defense News.