House votes to end support for Yemen war; Trump expected to veto

Congress invokes War Powers Resolution in bid to stop US involvement in Saudi-led military campaign; White House says bill raises ‘serious constitutional concerns’

US President Donald Trump shakes hands with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on May 20, 2017. (AP/Evan Vucci)
US President Donald Trump shakes hands with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on May 20, 2017. (AP/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House on Thursday voted to end American involvement in the Yemen war, rebuffing the Trump administration’s support for the military campaign led by Saudi Arabia.

The bill now heads to US President Donald Trump, who is expected to veto it. The White House says the bill raises “serious constitutional concerns,” and Congress lacks the votes to override him.

By a 247-175 vote, Congress for the first time invoked the decades-old War Powers Resolution to try and stop a foreign conflict.

“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,” said Democratic Representative Eliot Engel of New York, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He said the humanitarian crisis in Yemen triggered by the war “demands moral leadership.”

The war is in its fifth year. Thousands of people have been killed and millions are on the brink of starvation. The United Nations has called the situation in Yemen the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Protesters chant in front of the New York Stock Exchange during a protest against the visit of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the United States in New York, March 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

The top Republican on the committee, Representative Michael McCaul of Texas, acknowledged the dire situation in Yemen for civilians, but he spoke out in opposition to the bill, saying it was an abuse of the War Powers Resolution.

In this photo from February 13, 2019, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) left, speaks with Ranking member Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) during the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee hearing in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

“This radical interpretation has implications far beyond Saudi Arabia,” McCaul said. He warned that the measure could “disrupt US security cooperation agreements with more than 100 counties.”

Opposition to the Saudi-led war in Yemen gathered support last year in the aftermath of the killing of US-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The Washington Post columnist was killed in October by agents of the kingdom, a close US partner, while he was in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. US intelligence agencies and lawmakers believe that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the murder of Khashoggi, who had written articles critical of the kingdom.

Lawmakers from both parties have scrutinized US-Saudi ties and criticized Trump for not condemning Saudi Arabia strongly enough.

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