Congress to Block Trump Admin's Anti-Iran Arm Sales to Saudi Arabia, UAE

Bipartisan group tells admin no weapons sales without congressional approval

U.S. Capitol building
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June 5, 2019

A bipartisan delegation of U.S. senators on Wednesday introduced 22 separate disapproval resolutions aimed at blocking the Trump administration from using emergency national security protocols to send more than $8 billion in weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as they seek to counter Iran's malign activities.

The senators say the Trump administration is taking unprecedented executive action to expedite the anti-Iran arm sales, which typically require congressional approval.

"Arguing there is an increased threat from Iran, the Trump administration invoked authorities under the Arms Export Control Act that, in certain circumstances, grant the President exceptional emergency authority to waive the statutorily-required congressional review period for arms sales," the lawmakers, including Sens. Todd Young (R., Ind.), Bob Menendez (D., N.J.), Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), Chris Murphy (D., Conn.), Rand Paul (R., Ky.), Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.), and Jack Reed (D., R.I.), said in a joint press release.

"The manner in which the administration has moved forward with these sales is unprecedented and is at odds with longstanding practice and cooperation between the Congress and the executive branch that results in the approval of billions of dollars of arms sales annually," the senators argue.

The resolutions barring the arms sales target 22 separate arms sales to Saudi Arab and the UAE, which the Trump administration sought to expedite without congressional approval as part of its effort to counter Iran's regional terror operations and support for militant groups, several of which have used Iranian resources and military hardware to attack Israel and other U.S. allies in the region.

Young expressed concern that these sales could further inflame regional tensions and spark a wider conflict.

"Congress has an essential oversight role in the decision to sell weapons and we must ensure proper procedures are in place in any weapons transfer," Young said in a statement. "In light of the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Yemen, we have an obligation to ensure the adequate guardrails are in place and that weapons transfers to Saudi Arabia [and] the United Arab Emirates do not exacerbate the conflict."

"Iran remains the world's leading state sponsor of terror, but the current threats that have been briefed to members of Congress do not justify taking this dramatic step," Young said. "The aircraft carrier, USS Abraham Lincoln, is deployed to the Gulf and I am confident that the members of our military could respond if a threat were to arise."

Published under: Saudi Arabia