UPDATE: Senate votes 53-45 in favor of disapproval resolution. Gardner votes NO. NYT:
Some Senate Republicans endorsed the administration’s position on Thursday, arguing that rejecting the arms sales would be overly blunt with unintended consequences at a time when tensions with Iran have escalated.
The question the Senate will consider, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader said, “is whether we’ll lash out at an imperfect partner and undercut our own efforts to build cooperation, check Iran, and achieve other important goals, or whether we’ll keep our imperfect partners close and use our influence.”
The Hill reports on a rebellion coming to a head in the U.S. Senate today over the Trump administration’s unflinching support for Saudi Arabia, in the face of alleged human rights abuses in their war in Yemen and increasing certainty on the world stage that the Saudi royal family was directly responsible for the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi:
The Senate will vote Thursday to block President Trump’s controversial arms sales to Saudi Arabia, paving the way for a showdown with the White House.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said the Senate will hold three votes on the 22 sales that would also send weapons to the United Arab Emirates and Jordan. Two standalone votes will be on resolutions to block sales to Saudi Arabia. Senators would then have a third vote that would condense the remaining 20 resolutions of disapproval into one vote.
The resolutions blocking Trump’s arms sales are anticipated to be able to pass the Senate, where they only need a simple majority. At least four Republicans are expected to vote with all 47 Democrats to block the arms deal.
Where Sen. Cory Gardner intends to land on this important vote is, as usual, anybody’s guess–but in previous votes in March and late 2018, Gardner meekly supported the administration’s position in between reassuring his constituents that Saudi Arabia’s actions are, you know, a problem. Gardner has struggled to respond to the Trump administration’s intransigence in holding Saudi Arabia accountable, paying lip service to efforts to get to the bottom of the Khashoggi killing but powerless to stop Trump from stonewalling on Saudi Arabia’s behalf.
And as we’ve seen countless times in the last three years, Gardner is totally unwilling to make the obvious connection everyone can plainly see between the problem and the actions of President Donald Trump directly responsible for the problem. This is how Russia’s interference in American elections, for example, becomes an abstract, almost hypothetical–yet somehow still very serious–threat in Gardner’s telling of the story. Gardner is politically unable to close the loop everyone else can, and over time it has severely damaged his credibility. The proof is easy to see in Gardner’s dismal poll numbers.
Will today be the day Sen. Gardner finally acknowledges reality and votes to rebuke Trump–on an issue that has seriously damaged America’s moral authority in foreign affairs? The record is not promising, but stay tuned.