ACTION ALERT: People Power Prompts Congress to Call for End to US Role in Yemen War

April 5th, 2019 - by Stephen Miles / Win Without War

(April 4, 2019) — We just won on Yemen! We just got the House to send a resolution to Trump’s desk demanding an end to US military support for the brutal Saudi and Emirati war in Yemen — the first time since 1973 that all of Congress has EVER voted in a unified voice to end a US war!

Today, we proved that a dedicated group of grassroots activists really can change the world. The New York Times even interviewed me about today’s vote, and well, the quote they published pretty much sums it up: [1]

“When we started talking with folks about doing this, they basically laughed it off,” said Stephen Miles, the director of Win Without War, an advocacy coalition that lobbied for the resolution. “They said it wouldn’t happen, Congress doesn’t ever invoke the War Powers Act—it was a really long, arduous process of education.”

Win Without War refused to listen to the naysayers, because we don’t fight for what’s easy — we fight for what’s right. For three years, we demanded Congress stop helping Saudi Arabia and the UAE bomb and starve Yemeni civilians. And our grassroots power beat every single odd.

Even a year ago, hardly any mainstream news outlets in the United States so much as mentioned that US support for the war in Yemen was helping enable one of the largest humanitarian crises in the world. But together, we forced brutal Saudi and UAE war crimes into headlines.

We drove hundreds of thousands of calls, actions, and emails to Congress — a relentless crescendo of grassroots pressure.

We briefed Congress — again and again.

We updated reporters — again and again.

We helped place key newspaper ads to target senators at breakneck speed.

We built new cross-movement partnerships to increase our power and amplified the voices of amazing frontline activists.

We refused to let the brutal Saudi assassination of Jamal Khashoggi be ignored for even a second — making it a turning point in US support for Saudi and Emirati war crimes in Yemen.

We won not one, but TWO votes EACH in the House and the Senate to beat a tangle of bureaucratic nonsense designed to trip us up.

We powered past Paul Ryan’s slimy tricks that buried a vote last December — AND we squashed a second Republican backdoor maneuver today.

And today, we got all of Congress to demand an end to a US war for the first time EVER!

Today’s vote hasn’t stopped the war — yet. But by winning today’s vote, we have given a massive boost to the peace process. We’ve upended unconditional US military support for this war. We’ve made the US-Saudi relationship controversial. We’ve put the Saudi and Emirati governments on notice. And we got this War Powers Resolution to Trump’s desk.

YOU did this. YOUR tireless grassroots advocacy — your calls, your emails, your tweets, your donations, your taking to the streets — are what got us to this incredible milestone today. Thank you.

Before I close, I want to ask one thing of you. Getting to our victory today took three full years of work. There’s no way around it: Activism and advocacy are a long, long journey, and we depend on grassroots supporters like you the whole way . . . .

We have been working for ending US support for the brutal Saudi-led war in Yemen for years. Tonight, we are celebrating that activism propelled us to victory. Let’s use this momentum to mobilize progressives around the country and the world.

Thank you for working for peace,

Stephen, Michelle, Amy, Mariam, Kate, Erica, Laila, Tara, Cassandra, and the Win Without War team

[1] New York Times, “US Role in Yemen War Will End Unless Trump Issues Second Veto” [See full story below—EAW.]

ACTION ALERT: The House and Senate Just Passed a Resolution to End Our Involvement in Yemen. Now We Must Stop a Possible Trump Veto

Perry O’Brien / Common Defense

WASHINGTON (April 4, 2019) — American-made bombs dropped from American-made jets have been used by the Saudis to kill thousands of people in Yemen. Nearly 100,000 children have died of starvation or disease. But now, thanks to incredible public pressure and demand, both the House and Senate have approved a War Powers Resolution to end our support of Saudi Arabia’s war. Now we just need to make sure Trump doesn’t veto it.

We’ve been mobilizing veterans against this war for almost as long as Common Defense has been in existence — each and every one of us making calls, signing petitions, working in the halls of Congress — to make this happen. And we did it.

Now the resolution is headed to Donald Trump’s desk. And the pressure we generate could force him to cave to the historic bipartisan coalition in Congress and our tens of thousands of veterans and military families. We must push him to sign it.

Make no mistake: this is a groundbreaking accomplishment — it’s something that we’re honored to have been a part of since the start, working with groups like MoveOn and Indivisible, Muslim communities, and other allies. At a time when the Republican Party has been hijacked by white supremacists, it’s a testament to our grassroots power that we can achieve widespread bipartisan support on an anti-war resolution like this one.

But now we need to keep up the pressure. So far, more than 30,000 of you have called for an end to this war and all other Forever Wars since we kicked off our organizing work — we even generated support from all 50 states. Let’s capitalize on this momentum and make sure the president doesn’t respond with a veto.

ACTION: Please sign your name and send an unmistakable message that the American people demand an end to our involvement in this destructive, unauthorized, borderline-genocidal war.

Perry O’Brien is a US Army veteran and Executive Director of Common Defense.

Graffiti protesting American drones in Yemen in 2016. (Yahya Arhab/European Pressphoto Agency)

US Role in Yemen War Will End —Unless Trump Issues Second Veto

Catie Edmondson / The New York Times

WASHINGTON (April 4, 2019) — The House on Thursday gave final passage to a bipartisan resolution forcing an end to United States military involvement in Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, sending President Trump a pointed rebuke over his continued defense of the kingdom after the killing of a dissident journalist, Jamal Khashoggi.

The 247-to-176 vote, with 16 Republicans joining all House Democrats, invoked the rarely used War Powers Act to curb the president’s executive power to wage war without congressional approval. It most likely sets up the second veto of Mr. Trump’s presidency, this time to publicly defend a four-year conflict that the United Nations has deemed the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with thousands of civilians killed and millions suffering from famine.

The Senate passed the resolution in March, 54 to 46.

“The vote in the Senate and in the House makes it clear that the United States will not continue to follow the despotic, anti-democratic leadership coming out of Saudi Arabia,” said Senator Bernie Sanders, independent of Vermont and one of the lead sponsors of the resolution. “The United States should not be led into a war by a despotic, undemocratic, murderous regime.”

Supporters of the Yemen resolution have faced a grueling road in recent months to get the legislation onto the president’s desk. The Senate — led by the resolution’s authors, Senators Mike Lee, Republican of Utah; Christopher S. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut; and Mr. Sanders — first passed the measure 56 to 41 in December, but Paul D. Ryan, the House speaker at the time, refused to take it up.

His successor, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, did, and the House easily passed it in February. But House Democrats inadvertently derailed the process by supporting a surprise procedural motion offered by Republicans to declare the chamber’s opposition to anti-Semitism. By attaching an unrelated amendment to the Yemen resolution, the House ended its “privileged” status, which would have forced the Senate to quickly take it up and send it to Mr. Trump.

The Senate then had to start from scratch.

The vote on Thursday amounted to a do-over. Republicans again tried to derail the resolution with a last-minute procedural maneuver to attach an amendment to condemn the movement to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel, a provision that put Democrats in a difficult position.

But this time, intent on ensuring the legislation would not be knocked off course again, Democratic leaders rallied their rank and file to oppose Republicans’ efforts. Representative Ted Deutch, a Florida Democrat and one of the strongest pro-Israel voices in the House, stood to condemn the Republican maneuver.

“This is about politics,” he said. “This is about trying to drive a wedge into this caucus where it does not belong.”

Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 Democrat, accused Republicans of “using Israel as a partisan cudgel” and urged his colleagues to oppose the measure.

 “Its intention is not to unite but to divide. Its intention is not to support our ally but to kill this bill through a cynical and dishonest tactic,” Mr. Hoyer said as Democrats stood and applauded. “Let’s stop playing games with this very important and serious issue.”

To persuade the president to support the legislation, a bipartisan group of lawmakers — including Representatives Ro Khanna, Democrat of California and one of the lead sponsors of the resolution, and Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida and one of the president’s staunchest allies — requested to meet with the president, appealing to his desire “to achieve our shared interest in responsibly drawing down needless conflicts throughout the world.”

The House resolution employs the 1973 War Powers Act, which gave Congress the ability to compel the removal of military forces absent a formal declaration of war. Those powers, created in the wake of the Vietnam War, have almost never been used, as lawmakers have demurred from intervening in politically sensitive matters of war, peace and support for the troops.

“When we started talking with folks about doing this, they basically laughed it off,” said Stephen Miles, the director of Win Without War, an advocacy coalition that lobbied for the resolution. “They said it wouldn’t happen; Congress doesn’t ever invoke the War Powers Act. It was a really long arduous process of education.”

In its justification for opposing the resolution, the White House argued that the use of the act “is flawed” because the Pentagon has provided “limited support to member countries of the Saudi-led coalition” in Yemen. That argument may have been more resonant years ago — repeated bipartisan attempts in 2016 to rebuke the American role in the Saudi-led intervention stalled in both the House and the Senate, beginning with efforts to block the sale of munitions to the Saudis.

But after the killing of Mr. Khashoggi, a Virginia-based columnist for The Washington Post, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, livid at the administration’s equivocal response, signaled a new willingness to reconsider the relationship with Riyadh. Lawmakers have grown increasingly vocal about reasserting their oversight on foreign policy.

“We are clawing back our constitutional responsibilities,” said Representative Jim McGovern, Democrat of Massachusetts.

And the public has become more aware of the crisis in Yemen, where an estimated 80 percent of the population requires some form of humanitarian assistance or protection and millions are without access to clean drinking water, according to the United Nations.

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