Republican Rand Paul and Democrats Chris Murphy and Al Franken have midwifed a resolution in the Senate that will force a vote on whether the block the recent arms deal signed during Trump's first state visit to Saudi Arabia.
The Arms Export Control Act of 1976 gives permission for a senator to push a vote through the seat on an arms sale. The same senators tried a similar move last year which sought to cancel the sale of US$1.15 billion of weapons to Saudi Arabia. The measure was however, swiftly defeated.
Saudi Arabia was the first stop on Donald Trump's first official overseas trip as US president, and the arms deal he signed with Saudi Arabia will likely go down as the hallmark of the entire tour, seeings as little was achieved in the way of meaningful steps toward a solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, despite the president's comment that he saw clinching the stillborn peace process as the "ultimate deal."
Saudi Arabia, which is waging a war in neighboring Yemen, with a civilian death roll of upward of 12,00 people, signed the agreement to buy US$110 billion worth of US weapons and military equipment. The three senators hope to block about US$500 million of the sale, which will included precision-guided munitions that were band in sales to Saudi Arabia in December 2016 by the Obama administration over concerns of indiscriminate targeting by the Saudi Air Force.
In Saudi Arabia @POTUS has just completed largest single arms deal in US history, negotiating a package totaling more than $109.7 billion— Sean Spicer (@PressSec) May 20, 2017
Rand Paul said in a statement that, "given Saudi Arabia's support for terror, poor human rights records, and questionable tactics in its war in Yemen, Congress must carefully consider and thoroughly debate if selling them billions of dollars of arms is in our best national security interest at this time."
In the House of Representatives, Democrat Ted Lieu — a longtime opponent of weapons sales to Saudi Arabia — penned a letter to the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, which called for a serious and scrupulous review into the restarting of sales of precision-guided munitions to Riyadh.
Throughout his campaign and since, President Trump has argue that an increase in international arms sales is an effective avenue to increasing job opportunities for the US workforce.
The exponential arms package agreement with Saudi Arabia comes on the heels of another agreement between the US and the UAE worth US$2 billion.