Menendez Floor Remarks Ahead of Senate Vote to Override Trump’s Veto of Bill Ending Support for Yemen War

Menendez Floor Remarks Ahead of Senate Vote to Override Trump’s Veto of Bill Ending Support for Yemen War

 

 

WASHINGTON – Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, delivered the following remarks on the floor of the Senate, offering his support to override President Trump’s veto of S.Res.7—a bipartisan bill that passed both Houses of Congress and which would withdraw U.S. support for the brutal Saudi-led campaign in Yemen. Below are the Senator’s remarks as delivered: 

“Mr. President, I rise today to again cast my vote in support of the resolution we will shortly be voting on, which sends an important message that this body, directly representing the American people, wishes to end direct U.S. military support for the Saudi-led coalition’s campaign in Yemen.

I am disappointed, but not surprised, that the President issued a veto – choosing to stand by a campaign of devastating consequences for the people of Yemen. Every time we have a vote on this resolution, and every day, the numbers get worse – but let us be clear – these numbers are people. Three million human beings have been forced to flee. More than 15 million are on the brink of starvation. And more than one million individuals – children, mothers, fathers - are suffering from the largest cholera epidemic in the world.

Even the coalition countries themselves insist there is no military solution to this man-made conflict. As Houthis – backed with destabilizing and increasing support from Iran – continue to launch attacks into civilian population centers, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates continue their campaign which has targeted hospitals and threatened humanitarian access.

The fragile UN-brokered political process that emerged from Stockholm is almost at a breaking point. And to be sure, the Houthis slow-walking the implementation of this plan presents a serious challenge.

But U.S. focus should now be on supporting a meaningful, inclusive, and comprehensive process – even if it is one step at a time. A process that must start by ensuring that vital humanitarian relief reaches those who need it most desperately.

As some of my colleagues and the President have repeated, we do indeed have important security and military partnerships with the countries comprising the coalition. But these partnerships are not a blank check for weapons and direct support for a campaign that is decidedly working against U.S. interests in the region.

In addition to the truly horrific attacks on civilians, we have credible, alarming reports that our partners are transferring U.S. weapons to non-state actors who have worked directly against the United States.

Moreover, the length and brutality of this campaign has allowed Iran to exploit a vacuum and increase its influence and presence in the Gulf.

Mr. President, this resolution sends an important message, but much work remains to be done.

I have a bipartisan bill that would authorize serious policy regarding U.S. weapons sales that would hold accountable those blocking humanitarian aid, and help set the stage for supporting a meaningful political process.

So as I have said before, we should consider this resolution just a first step. But one that must be taken. One that the Congress has shown it supports. So while the President has made his decision clear, the Congress must continue to assert our independence, and continue to act where he will not.

Finally, let me also repeat what I said this morning at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s business meeting. The Executive has a responsibility to share with us critical information that is directly relevant to the work of this committee. Last month, I discovered intelligence directly related to a topic that the Administration had regularly briefed the committee about, but completely omitted. Without going into the details, I called the Administration to provide Committee members with more information. I believe the full Senate should have this information, which is relevant to votes we have taken. I will be asking the Majority and Minority leaders to convene an all Senators briefing on this topic. I think they should know, before they cast votes.”

 

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