Militants loyal to Yemen's President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi take their positions in Taiz, Yemen, March, 30, 2015. The United States military has been engaged in Yemen since 2015 but a vote on Tuesday could end its operations there. File Photo by Anees Mahyoub/UPI | License Photo
March 20 (UPI) -- The Senate on Tuesday voted against ending the U.S. military's involvement in Yemen's civil war.
The measure, brought forth by Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Chris Murphy, D-Conn., sought to end the U.S. military's now three-year involvement in Yemen by invoking the War Powers Resolution of 1973. The resolution says the U.S. president can approve engagement in combat abroad "only pursuant to (1) a declaration of war, (2) specific statutory authorization, or (3) a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces."
Neither of those conditions have been met, the senators argued, making the U.S. operation in Yemen illegal.
Senators voted 55-44 against the resolution.
"I'm deeply disappointed that Congress again abdicated its constitutional duty to authorize war. Over and over, Congress has sat back and failed to ask the hard questions as administrations have misled us into conflicts, including Vietnam and Iraq, with disastrous consequences," Sanders said.
"The Saudi-led intervention in Yemen, with U.S. support, has been a humanitarian disaster. Instead of supplying bombs and refueling capabilities, we should be doing everything possible to create a peaceful resolution to that civil war and provide humanitarian help."
The United States began supporting Saudi Arabia's military involvement in Yemen under President Barack Obama in 2015. That operation has continued under President Donald Trump and today, U.S. troops are on the ground conducting various ground operations, the Pentagon confirmed.
The resolution would have put limits to how much the U.S. military can assist Saudi Arabia's military attacks on Yemen. Currently, the U.S. provides the Saudis with air-to-air refueling, intelligence assessments and other military advice.
The New York Times reported that State Department and Pentagon officials were opposed to the resolution and warned senators that ending U.S. involvement in Saudi Arabia's war on Yemen could damage relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia.
"New restrictions on this limited U.S. military support could increase civilian casualties, jeopardize cooperation with our partners on counter-terrorism and reduce our influence with the Saudis," Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in a letter to congressional members last week.
Sanders has criticized the Saudi war in Yemen -- and the U.S. military's support of it -- as making matters worse in a country that is already among the poorest in the world.