Schumer announced Monday that he intends to back a resolution to block a portion of arms sales to Saudi Arabia, citing the country's human rights and humanitarian abuses.
Schumer also says Saudi Arabia finances the operations of schools that spread extremist propaganda throughout the world. Five Democrats (Sens. Joe Donnelley, Joe Manchin, Claire McCaskill, Bill Nelson and Mark Warner) voted with the majority to support the sale. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Al Franken (D-Minn.).
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Besides their intervention in Yemen, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, along with a number of their regional allies, stand accused of providing weapons and funding various militant groups wreaking havoc in the Middle East, particularly in Syria and Iraq. Paul cast the vote as a referendum on USA support for the Saudi air campaign and Congress' opportunity to assert its war-making responsibilities.
Schumer noted that the Trump administration "has not clearly articulated how the USA will put pressure on Saudi Arabia to end their support of Wahhabi schools, even as it claims President Trump's recent visit to Riyadh was focused on curtailing terrorism in the Middle East".
The bipartisan resolution of disapproval, introduced by Senators Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, and Chris Murphy and Al Franken, Democrats from CT and Minnesota, highlights the sales of aircraft components and weapons used by the Saudi-led coalition in the war in Yemen.
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The resolution received far more support than a similar resolution a year ago targeting a $1 billion tank deal with Saudi Arabia blocked by the Obama administration.
Trump's decision to move ahead with the sale appeared to reverse an Obama administration decision to hold sales of precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia's armed forces after a Saudi airstrike on a funeral in Yemen a year ago killed more than 140 people. In March, the Trump administration announced it meant to continue sales despite the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Yemen.
The arms deal will no doubt further bolster an emboldened Saudi coalition at a time when a cholera outbreak has swept the country, reaching over 100,000 cases in less than three months.
The handout provided by the Saudi Royal Palace on May 22, 2017, shows US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump waving as they board Air Force One before leaving Riyadh.
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