By Lara Seligman
Trump Faces Pushback on Arms Sales
Capitol Hill rebuke. In a bipartisan rebuke of President Donald Trump, a group of senators on Wednesday vowed to block $8 billion worth of arms sales to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and other Arab states.
The announcement comes after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on May 24 declared a national security emergency in order to bypass Congress and expedite deals, citing the threat from Iran. By law, Congress reviews all arms sales.
What’s in the package? The most controversial weapons in the planned arms sales package are precision-guided bombs, which would likely be used in the Saudi-led war in Yemen. Other items include equipment for AH-64 Apache helicopters, laser-guided rockets, Javelin anti-tank missiles, Patriot missiles, and F-16 fighter jet engine parts for the UAE, as well as mortar bombs, engines and maintenance support for F-15 fighter jets for Saudi Arabia.
Clash coming. The senators are introducing 22 separate joint resolutions of disapproval for each of the sales, vowing to “protect and reaffirm” Congress’ role in approving arms sales. The move sets up a confrontation with the administration: If Congress adopts the resolutions and Trump vetoes the measures, lawmakers would have to secure a two-thirds majority to override a presidential veto.
‘We will not stand idly by.’ The Trump administration’s national emergency declaration “is yet another example of an end-run around Congress and a disregard for human rights,” said Sen. Bob Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey, who introduced the legislation along with Sen. Lindsay Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, and other senators. “We are taking this step today to show that we will not stand idly by and allow the President or the Secretary of State to further erode Congressional review and oversight of arm sales.”Ex-defense lobbyist out. Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department has forced out Charles Faulkner, a former lobbyist for bomb-maker Raytheon, over his role in crafting the plan to fast-track the arms sales package, according to the Wall Street Journal. Lawmakers want to know if Faulkner violated ethics rules by taking part in discussions on the emergency declaration.
You can read the full analysis at Foreign Policy here.