Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., is leading an effort to rebuke President Donald Trump's emergency declaration to circumvent Congress and sell weapons to Saudi Arabia, UAE and Jordan. File Photo by Erin Schaff/UPI. | License Photo
June 5 (UPI) -- A bipartisan group of senators is attempting to rebuke the Trump administration's $8 billion weapons sale to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan with 22 resolutions of disapproval.
President Donald Trump issued an emergency declaration May 24 to get around the normal process requiring congressional approval for the controversial arms sale because it's "in the national security interests of the United States."
Many lawmakers oppose the weapons sale because of the Saudi's links to the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi last year at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
Trump's defiance of Congress angered many lawmakers in the same way the other national emergency declaration to pay for a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border did earlier this year.
"The Trump administration has failed once again to prioritize our long-term national security interests or stand up for human rights, and instead is granting favors to authoritarian countries like Saudi Arabia," Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J. said last month.
Menendez, the top Democrat on the foreign relations committee, put a $2 billion hold on the sale of precision-guided munitions kits to Saudi Arabia and a $1 billion sale to the UAE because of concerns the weapons would be used in Yemen, where civilian casualties have been high. The ranking committee member can put a hold on arms sales above a certain amount but Trump can override that by declaring a national emergency.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., one of Trump's staunchest allies, has said he will break ranks and support the resolutions of disapproval. Sens. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and Rand Paul, R-Ky., also support them.
The Senate could also consider resolutions of disapproval for Trump's proposed tariffs on Mexico, which have angered Republicans because they could cost jobs and raise consumer prices.
On Tuesday, it was revealed that the Trump administration approved the transfer of sensitive nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia twice. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., cited records provided by the Department of Energy that show the Trump administration gave the green light to U.S. energy firms to export technology to Saudi Arabia.
The approval was given on Oct. 18, 16 days after Khashoggi was strangled and dismembered.
"President Trump's eagerness to give the Saudis anything they want, over bipartisan congressional objection, harms American national security interests and is one of many steps the administration is taking that is fueling a dangerous escalation of tension in the region," Kaine said.
Congressional staffers confirmed Kaine's account to NBC News.