Demand Progress & Friends Committee on National Legislation & Win Without War
(August 2, 2019) — We are seeking organizational signers to this letter urging Congress ensure amendments 26 (Smith-Khanna-Schiff-Jayapal), 438 (Malinowski), and 23 (Gabbard-Lieu) remain in the NDAA through joint conference negotiations taking place with the Senate over the next few weeks.
These three amendments represent the culmination of years of advocacy and a real chance to bring an end to the US participation in the Saudi-UAE coalition’s war in Yemen.
By suspending the sale of arms, and spare parts, as well as ending US logistical support for the coalition, Congress can prevent this humanitarian catastrophe from spiraling further out of control as it reasserts its Constitutional authority on matters of war and peace. We are keeping this letter open to new signers until COB August 12th.
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Win Without War
PS: Go to this google doc to access hyperlinks:
Dear Speaker Pelosi, Leader Schumer, Chairman Smith, and Ranking Member Reed:
We thank you for your efforts to bring about an end to the world’s largest humanitarian crisis in Yemen. Your leadership has helped produce bicameral, bipartisan majorities of Congress repeatedly acting on the moral and constitutional imperative to end unauthorized U.S. participation in the Saudi and Emirati-led military intervention in Yemen. We ask that you make every effort to ensure this position becomes law through the National Defense Authorization Act of FY2020.
Repeated Congressional votes to end U.S. involvement in the Saudi/Emirati-led war are largely responsible for the Trump administration’s suspension of midair refueling for Saudi airstrikes last November. Congressional opposition also contributed to the reported drawdown of Emirati forces from the conflict. Nevertheless, “conditions for most people in Yemen are getting worse, not better,” noted UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock in July.
“The fighting rages on,” he stated, with coalition aerial bombings continuing in cities across Yemen. “Since June, 120,000 more people have fled their homes, bringing total displacement this year to more than 300,000,” while 500,000 cases of cholera were reported this year. Eighty percent of the population—more than 24 million people—needs assistance and protection, while 10 million rely on food aid to survive. “The death toll will surely grow,” Lowcock concluded.
Ending hostilities is the essential first step toward easing the humanitarian emergency and negotiating a political solution to the conflict. Three House-passed NDAA amendments support this goal: The Smith-Khanna-Schiff-Jayapal Amendment 26 terminates all unauthorized U.S. participation in Saudi/Emirati-led hostilities against Yemen’s Houthis, including U.S. logistical support and intelligence sharing considered indispensable for coalition airstrikes. CIA veteran Bruce Riedel, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, has argued that the coalition’s aerial bombing campaign in Yemen “will be grounded” if the United States “halts the flow of logistics.”
Passed by a bipartisan 240-vote margin in the House, the amendment ratifies the intent of both chambers of Congress that passed a similar directive S.J.Res.7 by a 54-vote majority, directing the president to end US participation in the war earlier this year.
Amendment 438, introduced by Representatives Malinowski, Cicilline, Lieu, Khanna, Omar, Trone, Engel, and Smith, imposes a one-year ban on air-to-ground munitions sales, transfers, and licenses to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, for which 236 House members voted in support.
In addition to preventing additional US-sold weapons from being used to cause civilian harm in Yemen, it could also block the “emergency” sale of new air-to-ground munitions from being delivered to coalition countries that bipartisan majorities voted to block during consideration of S.J.Res. 36, 37, and 38 this summer.
The Lieu-Gabbard Amendment 23 prohibits the U.S. Special Defense Acquisition Fund from providing assistance—such as spare parts and munitions transfers—to Saudi Arabia if this assistance could be used in the ongoing war in Yemen, and passed the House with 239 votes in support.
This amendment both complements and strengthens the enforcement of both the prohibition on U.S. participation in Saudi and Emirati hostilities in Yemen and a one-year suspension of bombs transfers.
We urge you to do everything in your power to ensure that these amendments, reflecting the will of bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate, are included in the final FY2020 NDAA. Together these provisions effectively override President Trump’s vetoes to S.J.Res. 7 and S.J.Res. 36,37, and 38.
This would reaffirm Congress’s power of the purse, oversight authority, and the right to make all necessary and proper laws to exercise its will, particularly with regard to what James Madison considered the “fundamental doctrine of the Constitution, that the power to declare war, including the power of judging the causes of war, is fully and exclusively vested in the legislature.”
In the Senate report that accompanied the War Powers Act of 1973, lawmakers noted that Congress “can take no more useful and needed step toward the restoration of constitutional balance than to enact legislation to confirm and codify the intent of the framers of the Constitution with respect to the war power,” which an NDAA with the aforementioned provisions would accomplish.
Thanks to your efforts to support the end of U.S. involvement in the Saudi and Emirati-led intervention in the civil war in Yemen, Congress has begun to exercise its constitutional war powers to a degree not seen in over 45 years. We therefore ask that you continue these efforts by ensuring the final FY2020 NDAA include House amendments 26, 438, and 23 as a culmination of this historic endeavor.
CC: Majority Leader McConnell, Minority Leader McCarthy, Chairman Inhofe, Ranking Member Thornberry
Contact David Segal if you have questions.