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Senate fails to override Trump's veto, continuing U.S. involvement in Yemen

By
Nicholas Sakelaris
Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina talks to reporters Thursday during a vote in the Senate on ending U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen.  Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI
Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina talks to reporters Thursday during a vote in the Senate on ending U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen.  Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI | License Photo

May 2 (UPI) -- The Senate failed Thursday to override President Donald Trump's veto of legislation calling for an end to U.S. support of the war in Yemen.

The Senate voted 53-45, short of the 67 senators needed to overturn Trump's veto. The bill would have ceased U.S. logistical and intelligence support of the Saudi-led coalition operating in Yemen.

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The resolution "directs the president to remove U.S. armed forces from hostilities in or affecting Yemen within 30 days unless Congress authorizes a later withdrawal date, issues a declaration of war or specifically authorizes the use of the armed forces."

The resolution also called for an end to in-flight refueling of non-U.S. aircraft conducting missions as part of the conflict in Yemen. The resolution did not affect military operations directed at al-Qaida.

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The bill gained bipartisan support after journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed last fall. U.S. intelligence concluded that the assassination at a Istanbul embassy was ordered by Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, galvanizing support for the bill, which passed the Senate on March 13. Trump, who has been a vocal supporter of Saudi Arabia, blocked the bill with the second veto of his presidency on April 16.

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The Senate's attempt to overturn the veto got some Republicans on board but not enough. Many Republicans see the situation in Yemen as a support operation that doesn't warrant using congressional war powers.

Midair refueling of Saudi coalition war planes has ended and the United States issued new sanctions against Saudi officials connected to the Khashoggi killing.

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Kate Wheelbarger, acting assistant defense secretary for international security affairs, said the U.S. troops are not involved in hostilities in Yemen.

"If you're so confident that we should be involved in this war, let's debate it, let's vote on it, let's let the American people have some say," said Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.

The humanitarian situation has gotten worse in the country with 20 million people at risk of starvation.

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"Every time we have a vote on this resolution, and every day the numbers get worse, but let me be clear," Senate Foreign Relations Committee member Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said. "Even the coalition countries themselves insist there is no military solution to this man-made conflict."

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman James E. Risch, R-Idaho, said he wants to do something to address the war in Yemen.

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"We are attempting to craft legislation that can garner support in the committee, address concerns on both sides of the aisle, and actually become law," Risch said.

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