US Senate to vote on blocking Saudi arms deal

US Senate to vote on blocking Saudi arms deal
The US Senate is set to vote this week on a joint resolution seeking to block a $1.15 billion sale of military equipment to Saudi Arabia.
2 min read
20 September, 2016
Senators met at the Centre for the National Interest in Washington on Monday [Getty]
The US Senate will vote this week on a resolution to reject a pending arms sale to Saudi Arabia, after reports emerged that over a third of all Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen hit civilians.

Senators Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Chris Murphy and Al Franken introduced the measure to block the $1.15 billion deal earlier this month.

The Senate is expected to vote on the resolution as early as Wednesday morning, Senator Chris Murphy said.

"I think this war in Yemen poses an immediate crisis within our relationship," Murphy said.

"I think we need to press pause on this arms sale in order to send a strong signal to the Saudis that the way they have conducted this war is unacceptable."

In a joint meeting at the Centre for the National Interest in Washington on Monday, Republican Senator Paul and Democratic Senator Murphy expressed grave concern over the Saudi-led war on Yemen.

"I think holding back the arms may give them a chance to show that they can do better," Paul said.

Murphy said supporting the Saudi-led action in Yemen puts US security at stake.

"If we are helping to radicalise Yemenis against us, we are participating in the slaughter of civilians, and we are allowing extremist groups that have plans and plots against the United States to grow stronger, how can that be in our security interest?" Murphy asked.

A report by the Yemen Data Project last week found that over a third of all airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen have hit civilian sites, including schools, hospitals, markets and mosques.

Rights groups found that US-made bombs were used in these raids, including an attack on a hospital supported by Doctors Without Borders [MSF], which killed 19 people including hospital staff.

For the resolution come into effect, it will need to be passed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives, and signed by President Barack Obama.