Urgent - Help Prevent Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia
May 26, 2017
Tomorrow (Friday) is the last day to phone your members of Congress before their weeklong recess, urging them to support House and Senate resolutions introduced today rejecting U.S. arms sales to the absolutist and warlike Saudi monarchy.
The Senate resolution was introduced by Sens. Chris Murphy [D-CT], Rand Paul [R-KY], and Al Franken [D-MN]. The House resolution [H.J. Res 102] was introduced by Reps. Justin Amash [R-MI], Mark Pocan [D-WI], Thomas Massie [R-KY], Barbara Lee [D-CA], Walter Jones [R-NC], and Jim McGovern [D-MA].
In an email we share below, our friend Robert Naiman lays out several strong reasons to be optimistic about these particular votes. The numbers may be right for an unprecedented success. Victory here is important in deterring the U.S.-backed Saudi coalition from driving Yemen closer to conflict-driven famine.
Just Foreign Policy (http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/) 's Robert Naiman writes:
There's a big Congressional fight coming on Trump's Saudi arms deal.
Trump went to Saudi Arabia last weekend and announced a big arms deal. This deal is controversial with a bunch of Democrats and some Republicans in Congress because Saudi Arabia and the UAE are using U.S. weapons to kill civilians and destroy civilian infrastructure in Yemen, deliberately trying to create famine in Yemen (https://www.c-span.org/video/?c4670011/murphy-young-yemen-murphy-saudis-deliberately-trying-create-famine-yemen) ; and the arms deal is widely seen (http://www.newyorker.com/news/john-cassidy/trumps-big-saudi-arms-deal-will-cause-more-misery-for-yemen) as a U.S. seal of approval for continuation of the catastrophic Saudi-UAE war and blockade.
Under the Arms Export Control Act, Trump has to formally notify Congress of new arms deals. Congress then has 30 days to pass a resolution of disapproval.
Admin has sent notices on pieces of the deal, and the 30 day clock has started on those pieces. Opponents in both houses are currently crafting their resolutions of disapproval, corresponding to the notices.
To win on a resolution of disapproval in either house, we need almost all Democrats, plus a chunk of Republicans who don't like Saudi Arabia very much and don't care very much about crossing the Republican leadership.
Here's a rough template for victory in the House: the June 16, 2016 vote (http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2016/roll327.xml) on blocking the transfer of cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia, which we lost 204-216 (http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2016/roll327.xml) . We had 90% of Ds, 20% of Rs. So, to win in the House, we have to make this be like the cluster bomb vote, and then do a little better than that - a few more Democrats and/or a few more Republicans.
On September 21 2016, there was a vote on a Saudi arms deal in the Senate. We lost 71-27 (https://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=114&session=2&vote=00145) .
However, there are a bunch of reasons to believe that most Senate Democrats can be with us this time. Trump has now approved weapons that Obama blocked in response to Saudi targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure; Democratic opinion has shifted more generally against the Saudi-UAE war; specific Democratic Senators who voted against us in September have indicated publicly or privately that they are likely to be with us now; and of course, now voting against the deal is voting against Trump rather than voting against Obama. It's plausible that we could get almost all Senate Democrats to vote for a resolution of disapproval.
Rand Paul will lead (http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/334776-paul-plans-to-force-vote-on-110b-saudi-defense-deal-report) the Senate resolution of disapproval. Mike Lee and Dean Heller voted with us in September. Todd Young, who wasn't in the Senate in September, has been a vocal critic of the Saudi-UAE war and is a co-sponsor of Murphy's bill to put new conditions on the transfer of air-to-ground munitions to Saudi Arabia. Maybe, if we could activate people in Maine and Alaska, Collins and/or Murkowski are possible pickups. So, if we can get most Senate Democrats, there are enough Republican votes to win.
In light of the fact that 1] the battle is imminent and 2] victory is possible, my hope is that a bunch of folks may be encouraged to engage...
In addition to phoning your elected representatives (the Capitol switchboard is 202-224-3121), please note Robert Naiman has a petition at MoveOn (http://org.salsalabs.com/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=SVuCt7XHoWfTXka851mwcVeThUMms2Rh) urging broad co-sponsorship of these resolutions - which can be an excellent tool for involving people not ready to phone their congresspersons on this issue.
Kathy Kelly, Sabia Rigby, Brian Terrell,
Laurie Hasbrook, Sean Reynolds, and all of us at Voices