Wednesday's procedural vote brings the Senate one step closer to ending US support for the three-year war in Yemen, which has created a humanitarian catastrophe in the country, pushing millions to the brink of starvation and allowing cholera to run rampant.
Senators voted 63-37 on the measure, which allows debate on the bill that would terminate US support. While it is only a procedural victory, the passage of the resolution marks a major step forward for the Senate, which has jumped through hoops in the past to prevent the subject from being discussed openly on its floor.
The measure has had bipartisan support from Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rand Paul (R-KY) for years. Congress has never actually voted to authorize the use of the US armed forces to support the Saudi coalition in its battle against Houthi forces in Yemen. The bill forces the Trump administration to withdraw military support for the Saudi coalition or seek authorization from Congress to re-deploy US military support for the coalition.
— Senator Dick Durbin (@SenatorDurbin) November 28, 2018
"Saudi Arabia continues to take actions that undermine confidence — not only with the brazen murder of Jamal Khashoggi, but in its continuing disregard for innocent human life in Yemen," Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of (D-R.I.) said in a Wednesday statement. "The president has been weak in addressing these issues…it is incumbent upon the Senate to send a clear message to the Saudi government that American support is not unconditional or absolute."
"Did we enlist in this war? Did the American people have a national debate about this war? Did we vote in the United States Senate to engage in this war? The answer is clearly no," Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) said on the floor of the Senate prior to the vote.
If the bill — Resolution 54 — reaches the president's desk in its current form the White House would veto it, according to a Wednesday statement.