01:39 GMT +316 June 2019
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    US Senators Seek to Block Arms Sales to Saudis, UAE Without Congress' Approval

    W.Scott
    Middle East
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    Earlier, President Trump invoked a provision of the Arms Export Control Act to allow the White House to bypass congressional approval procedures to sell arms to countries including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Jordan.

    A bipartisan group of senators announced nearly two dozen joint resolutions on Wednesday to try to block the Trump administration's effort to push through 22 US arms sales deals with Riyadh, Abu Dhabi, and Amman.

    The effort, led by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, looks to "protect and reaffirm Congress' role of approving arms sales to foreign governments", the lawmakers said in a statement.

    Republicans Rand Paul and Todd Young, as well as Democrats Patrick Leahy, Chris Murphy, and Jack Reed, have announced support for the proposal.

    Earlier, lawmakers said that they would work to block President Trump's plans to sell some $8.1 billion in arms to the three Middle Eastern countries, citing concerns about the White House's attempt to eliminate congressional oversight on what types of US arms can be sold and where.

    President Trump informed Congress that he would push through with the 22 deals on military equipment, including everything from missiles and mortars to fighter jet engines, late last month, citing a national emergency stemming from US tensions with Iran. Ordinarily, lawmakers conduct a review of potential arms deals for 30 days before voting on whether or not to approve them.

    Earlier, House lawmakers proposed a bill which would require the deals to be resubmitted using the traditional notification procedures. Some lawmakers also proposed amending the 1976 Arms Export Control Act to make it tougher for the president to invoke the "emergency authority" provision that Trump used to move forward with the sales.

    Senate and House lawmakers from both parties have repeatedly challenged the president's efforts to sell arms to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, citing civilian casualties from the Saudi-led coalition's campaign in Yemen and alleged human rights abuses. Trump, meanwhile, has chosen to ignore these issues, citing the tens of billions of dollars that US arms makers stand to make from the deals.

    Lawmakers need a two-thirds majority in both the Senate and the House to override a presidential veto on any of their resolutions.

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