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The U.S. Senate defied President Donald Trump Wednesday and voted to cut off support for the Saudi-led coalition fighting rebels in Yemen.
Seven of Trump’s fellow Republicans sided with Democrats in passing the measure 54-46.
It now goes to the House, which approved its own similar measure this year, only to have the process stall over a procedural issue. Trump has threatened to veto the bill if it reaches his desk, saying it would undermine the counterterrorism fight.
The measure demands Trump “remove United States Armed Forces from hostilities in or affecting the Republic of Yemen within 30 days.”
A first for the War Powers Resolution
If it passes in the House, it would be the first time in history Congress has invoked the 1973 War Powers Resolution, which says Congress determines when the U.S. goes to war, not the president.
“Today, we begin the process of reclaiming our constitutional power by ending U.S. involvement in a war that has not been authorized by Congress and is clearly unconstitutional,” said independent Senator Bernie Sanders, sponsor of the measure.
Opponents argued that the War Powers Resolution does not apply because the U.S. is not directly involved in combat in Yemen.
Civilians killed, millions face famine
Saudi Arabia is leading a coalition helping Yemen fight Iranian-backed Houthi rebels. The Trump administration has been providing Yemen with intelligence and other support.
Saudi airstrikes aimed at the rebels have also struck civilian areas, killing thousands of people, and devastating entire neighborhoods and hospitals.
The war has also worsened the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, where millions face famine.
Saudi Arabia “is not an ally that deserves our support of our military intervention,” Republican Senator Mike Lee said, adding that the Saudis “are likely using our own weapons … to commit these atrocities of war. That’s not OK.”
Lawmakers from both parties are not only opposed to the bloodshed in Yemen, but also upset over what they see as Trump’s tepid response to the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October.
His body has not been found.
Trump has called Saudi Arabia — an arch foe of Iran — an essential Mideast ally whose weapons purchases from the U.S. create thousands of American jobs.