On the first day of their post-election lame-duck session, House Republicans decided to block a vote on whether the US should support Saudi Arabia in its war on Yemen, three congressional sources say.
On Tuesday night, the still GOP-led House Rules Committee stripped a measure seeking an authorization vote for US military support in Yemen of its special privilege by a 6-2 vote. The measure isn’t official dead yet, as the rule will come to the full floor on Wednesday. But it’s expected that the special privilege will be officially struck down even though some Republicans may vote to uphold it.
“When Democrats assume the majority they will have the opportunity to hold hearings, markups, and take votes on this matter,” a Republican congressional aide told me. “Forcing this type of vote on members in the remainder of this Congress is purely political and simply unnecessary.”
The War Powers resolution, led by Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) and endorsed by top Democrats, was likely to come to the floor for a vote later this month. The War Powers Act of 1973 allows for declaring a special privilege, essentially letting the matter come to a vote, and congressional parliamentarians said Khanna’s resolution met those requirements, a Democratic source said.
But without that privilege, it’s unlikely the House will vote on the measure until the next Congress — ending Democratic hopes of curbing America’s involvement in the war sooner rather than later.
Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), who will likely lead the House Foreign Affairs Committee in the next Congress, said in a statement that “It’s outrageous and unprecedented that House Republicans are shutting down debate about America’s involvement in the war in Yemen...It’s wrong for Republicans to stop the House from taking up these critical issues.”
Last week, the US stopped refueling Saudi warplanes that drop bombs in Yemen, but it still provides training and intelligence sharing.
The Huffington Post first reported on Republican efforts to delay a vote on the bill on Tuesday.
The US may continue its support for the Yemen war — for now
Much of the criticism came after Saudi officials allegedly killed US-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul last month. His death led to an international outcry, including among many US lawmakers. Khanna’s resolution was to be the first salvo to show the Trump administration that Congress was no longer behind the Yemen effort.
But with the imminent rule change, it looks like Democrats will need a new plan to vote on the matter before next year.