June 01, 2022

Members of Congress Introduce Bipartisan War Powers Resolution to End Unauthorized U.S. Involvement in Saudi War in Yemen

Today, a bipartisan group of nearly 50 members of Congress introduced H.R. 87, legislation to invoke constitutional war powers to end unauthorized United States military involvement in Saudi Arabia’s brutal war in Yemen. The resolution was led by Representatives Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), and Nancy Mace (R-S.C.). A companion version will be introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in the Senate when the upper chamber reconvenes.

Consistent with virtually identical provisions the House has adopted for three consecutive years — most recently in an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act passed by a bipartisan majority in 2021 — this new resolution would put an end to U.S. military participation in offensive air strikes that are operationally essential to the Saudi-led military campaign. The resolution includes provisions to:

  • End U.S. intelligence sharing that enables offensive Saudi-led coalition strikes;
  • End U.S. logistical support for offensive Saudi-led coalition strikes, including the providing of maintenance and spare parts to coalition members engaged in anti-Houthi bombings in Yemen; and,
  • Prohibit U.S. personnel from being assigned to command, coordinate, participate in the movement of, or accompany Saudi-led coalition forces engaged in hostilities without prior specific statutory authorization by Congress.

“Article I of the Constitution is clear: Congress, not the Executive branch, has the sole authority to declare war and authorize involvement of U.S. forces in overseas conflicts, including inserting U.S. troops as advisors in aid of foreign-led hostilities,” said Rep. DeFazio. “It’s critical that the Biden Administration take the steps necessary to fulfill their promise to end U.S. support for the disastrous Saudi-led war in Yemen. We should not be involved in yet another conflict in the Middle East— especially a brutal war that has created the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, and contributed to the deaths of at least 377,000 civilians.”

“The recent ceasefire has created an opportunity for American diplomacy to help end the tremendous human suffering caused by the war in Yemen,” said Rep. Schiff. “The clearest and best way to press all sides to the negotiating table is for Congress to immediately invoke its constitutional war powers to end U.S. involvement in this conflict.”

“Congress cannot sit by and allow the United States’ complicity in the worst humanitarian crisis in the world to continue,” said Rep. Jayapal. “There are more than 16 million Yemenis living on the brink of starvation and more than two million children suffering from acute malnutrition — and the American people’s tax dollars are helping finance that suffering. I am proud to join my colleagues in leading the introduction of this resolution today, and securing a vote to finally put a stop to American involvement in this catastrophe. We look forward to seeing this resolution pass the House and Senate and be signed into law by the President, so he can fulfill his commitment to ending U.S. involvement in this crisis.”

“The war in Yemen continues, sadly, to be an overlooked humanitarian crisis; it is imperative Congress rescinds U.S. support for this unauthorized military conflict and works toward peace on the Arabian peninsula,” said Rep Mace.

Today’s introduction comes more than seven years after unauthorized U.S. participation began. Since 2015, Saudi Arabia’s airstrikes and air-and-sea blockade have cost hundreds of thousands of lives and threatened millions more with famine. In recent months, Saudi airstrikes escalated, killing and injuring four times more civilians than in 2021.

The need for Congressional action has only become more urgent with recent developments. Roughly 30 percent of Yemen’s wheat imports come from Ukraine and with food prices soaring, acute hunger in Yemen is expected to increase five-fold. While a United Nations-brokered truce has temporarily succeeded in pausing Saudi airstrikes, which had escalated dramatically in late 2021 and early 2022, efforts to ease the Saudi aerial and naval blockade on food, fuel, medicine, and travel remain tenuous. With that truce scheduled to expire early this month, the new bipartisan resolution signals broad congressional resolve to ensure that Saudi-led airstrikes cannot resume, while adding incentive for the Saudi-led coalition to arrive at a broader, negotiated peace settlement. The resolution has been endorsed by 100 national organizations across the political spectrum, which urge prompt floor action and passage of the bill.

The new bipartisan resolution also advances President Biden’s promise to “end U.S. support for the disastrous Saudi-led war in Yemen” and “make clear that America will never again check its principles at the door just to buy oil or sell weapons.” His administration’s commitment dates back to 2019, when the former Vice President urged Congress to override President Trump’s veto to pass a War Powers Resolution to end U.S. military involvement in Yemen. That same year, a group of now-senior Biden administration officials, including National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, publicly called on Congress to terminate precisely these activities: “logistics, spare parts for warplanes, intelligence sharing, and other support activities that are essential to waging Saudi Arabia’s deadly aerial bombing campaign” to help resolve the conflict “by motivating Saudi Arabia to move quickly to political negotiations in the face of an impending cessation of crucial U.S. operational involvement in airstrikes.” Shortly after taking office, President Biden announced a commitment to ending support for ‘offensive’ operations.

The resolution text can be found here.

The bill is cosponsored by Representatives Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), James McGovern (D-Mass.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Richard Larsen (D-Wash.), Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Hank Johnson (D-Geo.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), André Carson (D-Ind.), Gerald Connolly (D-Va.), James Himes (D-Conn.), John Garamendi (D-Calif.), Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Ken Buck (R-Colo.), Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), Dwight Evans (D-Penn.), Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.), Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Penn.), Susan Wild (D-Penn.), Jesús “Chuy” García (D-Ill.), Andy Levin (D-Mich.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Katie Porter (D-Calif.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Michael F.Q. San Nicolas (D-Guam), Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), Sara Jacobs (D-Calif.), Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.), and Kaiali’i Kahele (D-Hawaii).

Groups endorsing this resolution include: Action Corps, American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), American Muslim Bar Association (AMBA), American Muslim Empowerment Network (AMEN), Antiwar.com, Ban Killer Drones, Bring Our Troops Home, Center for Economic Policy and Research (CEPR), Center for International Policy, Center on Conscience and War, Central Valley Islamic Council Church of the Brethren, Office of Peacebuilding and Policy Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP), Community Peacemaker Teams, Concerned Vets for America, Defending Rights & Dissent, Defense Priorities Initiative, Demand Progress, Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Freedom Forward, Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ Health Alliance, International Historians for Peace and Democracy ICNA, Council for Social Justice, If Not Now, Indivisible, Islamophobia Studies Center, Jewish Voice for Peace Action, Just Foreign Policy, Justice Is Global, MADRE, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, MoveOn, Muslim Justice Leagu,e Muslims for Just Futures, National Council of Churches, Neighbors for Peace, Our Revolution, Pax Christi, USA Peace Action, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Presbyterian Church (USA), Progressive Democrats of America, Public Citizen, Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, ReThinking Foreign Policy, RootsAction.org, Secure Justice, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas - Justice Team, Spin Film, Sunrise Movement, The Episcopal Church, The Libertarian Institute, The United Methodist Church -- General Board of Church and Society, Union of Arab Women, Unitarian Universalist Service Committee United Church of Christ, Justice and Local Church, Ministries United for Peace and Justice, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USCPR), Veterans For Peace, Win Without War, World BEYOND War, Yemen Freedom Council, Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Foundation, Yemeni Alliance Committee, and the Yemeni American Merchants Association.

 

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