Originally posted on Peace Action Groundswell
Washington, D.C. — November 28, 2018 — In response to the Senate voting 63-37 in favor of allowing floor debate on S.J.Res. 54, legislation introduced by Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Mike Lee (R-UT) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen, Paul Kawika Martin, Senior Director for Policy and Political Affairs at Peace Action, released the following statement:
“This is a dramatic shift from last March, when only five Republican senators voted to advance the Sanders resolution. We now have a bipartisan majority in the Senate intent on doing something about Saudi Arabia’s brutal conduct from Yemen to Istanbul. This vote puts more pressure on the administration to end U.S. support for the war, and more pressure on Saudi Arabia to negotiate a political solution, and that pressure could help save countless lives in Yemen.
“Cutting off military aid to Saudi Arabia is the right choice for Yemen, the right choice for our national security, and the right choice for upholding the Constitution. This is one of the only successful votes in recent memory Congress has taken to assert its war powers and stand up to presidential overreach on questions of war. The bigger challenge in reclaiming congressional war powers will be repealing the antiquated war authorizations from the early 2000’s that have made endless war the status quo, but this vote represents important progress in that broader struggle.
“Three years ago, the notion of Congress voting to cut off military support for Saudi Arabia would have been politically laughable. This successful vote in the Senate is a testament to the collective power of a coalition of peace groups, human rights groups, and grassroots activists across the country making calls, organizing rallies, and meeting with members of Congress to make the case for ending the U.S. role in the war in Yemen. Of course, more work remains to be done. The Senate still needs to pass the Sanders resolution itself and the House needs to follow suit as soon as possible to force the president to decide between vetoing the legislation, which polls suggest would be widely unpopular, or ending U.S. support for the war.”
The war in Yemen has given rise to the worst humanitarian crisis on the planet. Over 8 million are on the verge of starvation, and millions more require humanitarian aid. A report from the World Peace Foundation offers “strong evidence” that Saudi Arabia has deliberately targeted food production and distribution facilities across Yemen in an effort to starve the people of Yemen. A report from Save the Children estimates that 85,000 children under the age of five have died from starvation since the war began. S.J.Res. 54 argues that the U.S. role in Yemen is unconstitutional because it violates the War Powers Act, as legal experts explained in a letter to Senate leaders ahead of a previous vote on S.J.Res. 54 held in March of this year. An IRC/YouGov poll released on November 26 shows that 75 percent of Americans oppose U.S. military support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, and 82 percent think Congress should vote to end or scale back arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Peace Action has worked to end U.S. support for the war in Yemen for years, and is active in a coalition of advocacy groups lobbying on the issue.
Founded in 1957, Peace Action (formerly SANE/Freeze), the United States’ largest peace and disarmament organization, with over 100,000 paid members and nearly 100 chapters in 36 states, works to abolish nuclear weapons, promote government spending priorities that support human needs, encourage real security through international cooperation and human rights and support nonmilitary solutions to international conflicts. The public may learn more and take action at www.PeaceAction.org. Paul Kawika Martin is Senior Director, Policy and Political Affairs of Peace Action.