Incensed that they were denied a briefing with CIA Director Gina Haspel over the Saudi killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and U.S resident, senators from both parties voted to advance a resolution that would limit the President’s war powers in Yemen’s devastating civil war.
The resolution passed on Nov. 28 when 14 Republicans joined all 49 Senate Democrats in bringing the resolution to the floor for a vote. Back in March, this same resolution only received 44 votes. However, since Khashoggi’s murder in the Saudi Arabian consulate back in October, many have begun to rethink the United States’ relationship with the Arab nation.
“It may happen slowly, but policy with the kingdom will never be the same,” said the lead sponsor of the measure, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah).
Even some of President Trump’s most ardent supporters went against the White House’s wishes.
“I changed my mind because I’m pissed,” said Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who voted against the resolution back in March, but changed his mind and voted for it this time.
It is unclear if Senator Graham and the other senators who switched their vote plan on voting for the resolution when it goes to the floor or if they are just trying to apply pressure on the White House.
In response, the White House threatened to veto the resolution if it ever made it to the President’s desk. The White House argues that the resolution would harm the United States’ relationship with Saudi Arabia and would hamper the United States’ ability to stop the spread of extremist organizations in Yemen. The administration also argued that the killing of Mr. Khashoggi should not ruin the U.S-Saudi relationship.
“Degrading U.S-Saudi ties would be a grave mistake for national security of the U.S and its allies,” said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in an article written in the Wall Street Journal.
The passage of the resolution is highly unlikely to end U.S involvement in Yemen. However, it does signal to the Trump Administration that the Senate is very concerned with the U.S-Saudi relationship as it stands now. Moving forward the administration is going to need to respond to the Senate’s concerns if they would like this issue to go away.