US President Donald Trump is welcomed by Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud upon arrival at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh on May 20, 2017. (Photo: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Big Arms Sale to Saudi and UAE Generate Bipartisan Opposition in the Senate

Contrary to the growing feeling that it’s no longer possible to see bipartisanship on Capitol Hill, Senate Republicans are joining with Democratic attempts to quash some $8 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Making matters more problematic for President Trump is the presence of South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham among those seeking to freeze the sales. Graham has been a stalwart supporter of Trump foreign policy and as a senior senator an invaluable ally. But the dual issues of whether the sale of sophisticated arms is warranted or prudent; and whether the president is exceeding his authority by declaring an emergency situation based on Iranian bluster or threats, depending upon your perspective, has set the administration up for an embarrassing loss on an issue for which President Trump has expended a great deal of political currency. By invoking the emergency contingency, the administration is able to end-run around Congressional approval: a presidential strategy that is a red-flag for lawmakers. In the first round of confrontation between the White House and Senate last March, a resolution to end support for the Saudi-led coalition operating in Yemen was passed, but vetoed by the president and the veto was upheld. This time around there are 22 separate resolutions calling for an end to different aspects of the arms sales and Republican co-sponsor Rand Paul of Kentucky is on record predicting that almost half the Senate will vote against the president. In an exclusive interview with The Media Line, a Yemeni cabinet minister expressed concern that his country is being punished for the perceived Saudi role in the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.

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