As the Washington Post reports:
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo notified lawmakers Friday that President Trump is invoking his emergency authority to sidestep Congress and complete 22 arms deals worth approximately $8 billion that would benefit Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and other countries, despite lawmakers’ objections to the transactions. [Pols emphasis]
Both Republicans and Democrats urged the Trump administration this week not to take the rare step of declaring an emergency to push through arms deals that lawmakers have blocked, including a controversial sale of precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia that some lawmakers fear may be used against civilians in the war-torn country of Yemen.
This move by President Trump is another direct effort to circumvent the authority of Congress, which is supposed to be able to approve or reject the sale of weapons to other countries. This is particularly egregious when you remember that both the House and the Senate voted this year to end U.S. support in the civil war in Yemen — a resolution that Trump quickly vetoed. Here’s more from Vox.com:
There is a provision in a weapons export law allowing the executive branch to sell arms without congressional sign-off if “an emergency exists which requires the proposed sale in the national security interest of the United States.” Administrations rarely invoke it, experts say, mainly because of how controversial it is and the high bar required to claim a dire situation exists.
President George W. Bush used the provision in 2006 to send precision-guided weapons to Israel during the Israel-Hezbollah July War, but that was last time an administration took advantage of the loophole.
President Donald Trump likely will claim that Saudi Arabia and the UAE need new munitions because they face repeated attacks from Houthi rebels. However, the Yemen war has raged since 2015, with the US supporting the Saudi-led coalition’s side. It’s jarring now to say that an emergency exists after all this time, especially when the US previously sold weapons to the Saudis through the normal process.
There’s also the fact that introducing more weapons to the war will likely worsen a catastrophic situation.
We’ll use this space to remind you that Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Let the “national emergency” waffling begin anew.