Time to Vote on Yemen

November 16, 2018

Two weeks ago, following continued admonitions of innocence from Saudi Arabia, it was confirmed that American journalist Jamal Khashoggi was viciously murdered within the Saudi embassy in Istanbul.

Khashoggi’s death calls attention to the deaths of many perpetrated by Saudi Arabia—including in Yemen, where an innocent life cut short is not uncommon.

Since 2015, more than 10,000 civilians have been killed, countless families displaced, and many more deprived of food, water, and shelter due to a Saudi-led blockade. Fifteen million people can’t access clean water and sanitation. An estimated 17 million people – 60 percent of the total population – do not have reliable access to food and are at risk of starvation.

These numbers and Khashoggi’s murder beg us to reevaluate our involvement in Yemen, and further, the extent of our relationship with Saudi Arabia. It also serves as a reminder to Americans that Congress still has not held a vote on our continued military intervention in that country.

Our intervention in that region started many years ago, escalating in 2015 when President Obama authorized "logistical and intelligence support" for Saudi Arabia following an uprising of Houthi insurgents against President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

However, several years - and many lives later - we are no closer to a solution.

Our involvement in Yemen is a clear violation of Article 1 of the Constitution which gives Congress, not the president, the power to declare war. In 1973, Congress did pass the War Powers Act which does give the executive branch the ability to use the U.S. armed forces in cases of emergencies and only for a limited time. But Yemen is not an emergency, and it has not been constrained by any time restrictions.

That is why this past February Senator Sanders (VE-I), Senator Murphy (DE-D), and I introduced a resolution to remove U.S. Armed Forces from Yemen.

However, the Senate tabled consideration of the resolution in a 55 to 44 vote. The resolution remains in the Foreign Relations Committee six months later with no additional vote on the forefront.

For far too long congress has neglected our constitutional responsibility to oversee military intervention, and our continued involvement in Yemen is both unconstitutional and immoral. I hope to fix this by yet again calling on a vote, and this time passing, the Sanders, Lee, Murphy resolution which would remove U.S. forces from Yemen.