On Wednesday, the Senate voted to finally start debating a course of action that will lead to the end of the United States’ support for Saudi Arabia and the war they are waging in Yemen.
As reported by the Washington Post, the decision is likely to lead to the first in a number of bipartisan rebukes of U.S. President Donald Trump’s continued refusal to condemn the involvement of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the brutal murder of Washington Post columnist and dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Senators hope that they will be able to do what the president has so far refused to do, despite findings from the country’s own intelligence agencies showing that there is “zero chance” Mohammed bin Salman was not involved in Khashoggi’s death. The vote resulted in a 60-to-39 split, and far exceeded the expectations of the Yemen resolution’s supporters.
It was assumed that all 14 Republicans who had shown initial support for the vote would change their minds at the last moment, but 11 of them still voted to start the debates. These votes included that of incoming chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, James E. Risch (R-Idaho), who is largely considered to be an ally of the president. Their votes joined that of all the Democrats.
U.S. lawmakers have been trying desperately to “condemn, chastise, or curtail” the support that the country has been offering to Saudi Arabia, and have been stepping up their efforts since Khashoggi’s death. But Trump has continued to refute the CIA’s conclusion of Mohammed bin Salman’s involvement and has refused to do anything that could even border on condemnation of the Middle Eastern nation.
Following the CIA investigation, the Senate stepped up their efforts to come to a decision to start debating at the very least a way to end U.S. involvement in the Saudis’ Yemeni war. The vote on Wednesday came just hours after CIA Director Gina Haspel briefed the House directly about their findings.
This was the second time that Haspel had given a closed-door briefing to the House about the investigation into Khashoggi’s death. In part, their conclusion was reached due to intercepts of communication between the crown prince and one of his top aides.
After this vote, the Senate is also expected to vote later this week on a resolution condemning bin Salman as responsible for the journalist’s death.
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