House Republicans shut down debate on ending US role in Yemen before Democrats take over

House Republicans shut down debate on ending US role in Yemen before Democrats take over
In a post-midterms lame-duck session, Republicans moved to strip the War Powers Resolution of a special privilege which could have fast-tracked the bill to the chamber floor.
2 min read
14 November, 2018
The US-backed Saudi-led war in Yemen has left 14 million facing famine [Getty]

Republicans in the House of Representatives have moved to block a vote on ending US support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

During a post-midterms session while the GOP still leads the House, the House Rules Committee voted Tuesday to strip a measure that would have allowed the vote to leapfrog committee hearings and be fast-tracked to the chamber floor later this month.

The full House will now consider the rule on Wednesday afternoon.

If a majority of lawmakers vote to remove the privilege the House leadership is not required to bring up the proposal for debate, curbing Democrats' hopes of ending American support for Riyadh's devastating military campaign sooner rather than later.

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Stripped of its privilege, a vote on the War Powers Resolution, sponsored by Democrat Representative Ro Khanna, will likely be held in the next Congress - a frustrating situation given the worsening crisis in Yemen.

Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi slammed Republicans in a statement for blocking the vote: "The conflict in Yemen has gone on for far too long, leaving a permanent stain on the conscience of the world. Yet, House Republicans just took sweeping, unprecedented action to undermine Congress' solemn, long-established prerogative to limit the President's war powers."

She added: "Real, immediate action must be taken by the Congress to end this horrific humanitarian crisis."

President Donald Trump has so far been reluctant to withdraw support for Riyadh's brutal bombing campaign in Yemen, under renewed spotlight following the pre-meditated murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in a Saudi consulate last month.

The Saudi-led coalition has defied the Trump administration's 31 October call for a ceasefire with an all-out offensive against the port city of Hodeida.

The US provides the Saudi-led coalition with satellite intelligence, satellite guidance technology, air support, military equipment and logistical assistance. On Saturday it announced it would end its inflight refueling support for the alliance. 

In August, Senate Republicans narrowly blocked an amendment that would have cut off US support in Yemen "until the Secretary of Defense certified that the coalition's air campaign is not violating international law and US policy related to the protection of civilians".

"The Republicans objected," tweeted Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT), who sponsored the amendment. "It's just unthinkable to me that we continue to willingly participate in the slaughter of Yemeni kids when there is zero benefit to US security. Mind blowing really."

After Tuesday's development, a Republican congressional aide told Vox: "Forcing this type of vote on members in the remainder of this Congress is purely political and simply unnecessary."