Bipartisan War Powers Bill Would Stop US Military Involvement in Yemen

September 28th, 2018 - by admin

Jason Ditz / & Rebecca Kheel / The Hill & Emily Birnbaum / The Hill – 2018-09-28 22:40:51

Bipartisan House Bill Aims to Stop US Military Involvement in Yemen War

War Powers Act Bill Would End Unauthorized War
Jason Ditz /

(September 26, 2018) – A bipartisan resolution was introduced in the House of Representatives Wednesday under the War Powers Act. If the bill is passed, it would formally end US military involvement in the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

The war in Yemen was never authorized by Congress, and US participation has become increasingly controversial, as Saudi airstrikes kill staggering numbers of civilians. This has led to growing resistance within Congress, though Congressional leadership has often sought ways to circumvent the votes.

Last year, the House offered a very similar War Powers Act resolution. Such resolutions are legally required to come up for a vote, though the leadership managed to block that one, and bargain their way down to a non-binding resolution.

Indeed, that bill and a Senate version came with the Pentagon claiming there were no US ground operations in Yemen involved in the war, a claim which later proved to be a lie. That in particlar has added calls for a re-vote.

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), the lead sponsor, says he is confident that the new version of the bill won’t suffer the same fate, noting that support for the bill has expanded since then.

The support for ending the war both reflects incidents like the Saudi attack on a school bus in August, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s overt circumvention of the 2019 NDAA clause which obliged the US to halt aid to the Saudis until they did more to reduce casualties. Pompeo immediately declared they’d done enough, though the death toll has continued to rise.

House Lawmakers Introduce Bill
To End US Support in Yemen Civil War

Rebecca Kheel / The Hill

(September 26, 2018) — Two dozen House lawmakers on Wednesday officially introduced a War Powers resolution to end US military involvement in Yemen’s civil war.

“One year later, the bloodshed continues with widespread destruction and disease contributing to the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. US-fueled planes continue to drop US-made bombs on innocent victims,” the resolution’s lead sponsor, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), said in a statement Wednesday.

“This time around, our coalition to end the war has expanded and the call for withdrawing US involvement is louder,” he added. Khanna tried to force a vote on a similar resolution last year.

Under the War Powers Act, the resolution becomes “privileged,” allowing lawmakers to force a vote on it.

Khanna and a group of 10 House Democrats, including the House Armed Services Committee ranking member Adam Smith (D-Wash.), previously announced their intention to introduce the resolution earlier this month.

The resolution introduced Wednesday gained support from more top Democrats, including House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and House Foreign Affairs Committee ranking member Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.).

Two Republicans, Reps. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) and Walter Jones (R-N.C.), are also co-sponsoring. The pair are typically outliers in their party on foreign policy.

The United States supports a Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen’s civil war against Iran-backed Houthi rebels. US support includes aerial refueling, intelligence sharing and arms sales.

Earlier this month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo allowed US refueling to continue by certifying to Congress that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are taking steps to protect civilians, alleviate the humanitarian crisis and end the war.

Congressional opposition to US involvement in the war has grown as the civilian death toll has mounted in attacks largely blamed on coalition airstrikes. On Tuesday, the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data project reported that civilian deaths have seen a 164 percent increase since June.

“The impact of the Saudi-coalition’s actions on the dire humanitarian crisis is undeniable,” Smith said in a statement Wednesday. “The US should be aggressively pushing a peaceful solution to end this civil war instead of supporting the Saudi-led coalition military campaign that has only destabilized the crisis further. We must make it clear that US should not be choosing sides in this civil war while the people of Yemen continue to suffer.”

Leadership resisted bringing Khanna’s War Powers resolution to a vote last year, despite its privilege status. Khanna eventually negotiated with Democratic and Republican leadership to instead get a vote on a non-binding resolution that passed. The resolution called US military involvement in the war unauthorized.

In introducing Wednesday’s resolution, Khanna said he was confident that outcome won’t happen again.

“I am confident the House Republican leadership will allow this resolution to come to a vote,” he said, “and that members of the House will hear from their constituents in support of our position against this unauthorized war contributing to Yemen’s humanitarian catastrophe.”

The resolution is also co-sponsored by Democratic Reps. Mark Pocan (Wis.), Jim McGovern (Mass.), Raul Grijalva (Ariz.), Jan Schakowsky (Ill.), Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii), Michael Capuano (Mass.), Yvette Clarke (N.Y.), Ted Lieu (Calif.), Barbara Lee (Calif.), Beto O’Rourke (Texas), Adriano Espaillat (N.Y.), Joe Kennedy (Mass.), Joe Courtney (Conn.), Gwen Moore (Wis.), Debbie Dingell (Mich.), Pramila Jayapal (Wash.), Peter DeFazio (Ore.) and Earl Blumenauer (Ore.).

Civilian Deaths in Yemen Up by 164 Percent
Emily Birnbaum / The Hill

(September 25, 2018) — Civilian deaths in Yemen have skyrocketed by 164 percent since June amid Saudi-led efforts to take a major Yemeni city, according to a new report.

The report, from the oversight group Armed Location and Event Data (ACLED), found that the average number of civilian deaths in Yemen each month has risen to 116 since Saudi and Emeriti coalitions launched an offensive to take Al-Hudaydah city.

August was Yemen’s most violent month in 2018, with nearly 500 people killed over the course of nine days, Frank McManus, the International Rescue Committee’s Yemen Country Director, said in a press release. Many civilian deaths, he said, have been caused by Saudi-led airstrikes.

The US supplies arms and intelligence to Saudi Arabia.

The ACLED’s report comes a few weeks after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo certified that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are taking steps to alleviate Yemen’s humanitarian crisis and end the war.

“The US State Department’s recent certification to Congress that the Saudi- and Emirati-led coalition in Yemen is taking demonstrable actions to reduce civilian harm and alleviate the humanitarian crisis is inconsistent with what International Rescue Committee staff experience across Yemen daily,” McManus said.

Democrats have been seeking ways to roll back or cut US military support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen’s bloody civil war. A group of House Democrats is planning to introduce a resolution that would withdraw US forces from Yemen.

Democrats’ frustration with US involvement in the war escalated this month after the Saudi-led coalition bombed a school bus full of children, killing 51 people. Forty of those who died were children.

“The Saudis deliberately bombed a bus full of children. There is only one moral answer, and that is to end our support for their intervention in Yemen,” Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), who is leading the House effort, said on Twitter at the time.

The bomb in the deadly attack was manufactured by a US firm, according to later investigations.

“While all sides — including Houthi authorities and the Saudi-led and Emirati-led Coalition — are guilty of violations of international humanitarian law, the United States and the United Kingdom are supporting the Saudi- and Emirati-led coalition with weapons and military support,” McManus said, calling for all “parties to immediately stop the fighting and allow room for a UN-led peace process.”

The report came out during a meeting of world leaders at the UN General Assembly in New York City.

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