House Votes to End US Support for Saudi-Led War in Yemen

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2019-04-04

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Congress voted Thursday to end U.S. participation in the war in Yemen, giving President Donald Trump a bipartisan rebuke of his foreign policy.

The House passed the resolution 247 to 175, with 16 Republicans joining majority Democrats. The Senate passed the resolution last month.

The vote marks the first time in history that Congress invoked the 1973 War Powers Act, which says a president cannot involve U.S. forces in a foreign conflict without the consent of Congress.

The White House has said Trump is likely to veto the resolution, saying it could hurt U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia, a major ally and arch foe of Iran.

Democrat Eliot Engel, chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said "the president will have to face the reality that Congress is no longer going to ignore its constitutional obligations when it comes to foreign policy."

A Saudi-led coalition has been backing Yemen by launching airstrikes against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.

Republican opponents say the War Powers Act does not apply to U.S. involvement because the U.S. is only supplying the Saudis with intelligence and other such support.

But Democrats and Republican supporters of the bill point out that the Saudis may have been using U.S.-made missiles against the Houthis.

Some of the missiles have hit civilian neighborhoods, killing thousands and destroying hospitals. One missile struck a busload of children returning from a picnic last August, killing 40.

Engel has said Yemen's humanitarian crisis, made worse by the fighting, "demands moral leadership."

More than four years of fighting in Yemen has made an already dire humanitarian disaster in one of the world's poorest countries even worse.

U.N. officials say nearly 80% of Yemenis are in desperate need of food and medicine, and say the country is on the edge of famine.

Many U.S. lawmakers are not only sickened by the carnage in Yemen, they are also upset over what has been Trump's tepid response to last year's killing of U.S.-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The Washington Post columnist was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. His remains have not been found.

Khashoggi was an outspoken critic of the Saudi royal family. Some U.S. officials suspect Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered his murder.