House Votes to Pull US Aid From Saudi-Led Yemen War

WASHINGTON (CN) – For the second time in as many months, the House of Representatives on Thursday voted to withdraw U.S. support from the war in Yemen, setting up a major showdown with the White House over the conflict.

In this Dec. 13, 2018, file photo, tribesmen loyal to Houthi rebels hold up their weapons as they attend a gathering to show their support for ongoing peace talks in Sanaa, Yemen. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed, File)

The House voted 247-175 on Thursday morning to end U.S. involvement in Saudi-led efforts in the war, which has stretched into its fifth year. With the Senate having passed the measure in March, Thursday marks the first time Congress has voted to use the War Powers Act to attempt to end a foreign war.

The White House has threatened to veto the resolution, calling the U.S. support of the war “limited,” merely involving intelligence sharing and logistical support. The White House also says pulling support from the war would strain the United States’ relationship with foreign allies.

Congress is unlikely to override the veto.

Representative Ro Khanna, the California Democrat who marshaled the House version of the bill, said he hopes Trump will sign the bill despite his stated objections. Khanna said he and a bipartisan group of lawmakers plan to ask for time to meet with the president about the subject in a push to persuade him.

“This is not to score partisan points, it’s to end a humanitarian disaster,” Khanna said at a press conference Thursday.

A United Nations report from February called the situation in Yemen the worse humanitarian crisis in the world, finding more than 20 million people there are food insecure, with 17.8 million unable to access clean water. The report said at least 17,000 civilians are among the tens of thousands of people killed in the conflict.

Republicans who opposed the resolution said it stretches the limits of the War Powers Act. Representative Michael McCaul of Texas, the top Republican on the Foreign Affairs Committee, noted the Department of Defense has repeatedly told Congress that the U.S. has no troops directly involved in the conflict and is providing only narrow support to allies. 

“This resolution abuses the war powers tool to get at a completely different security assistance issue, which Congress has already had clear tools to address,” McCaul said Thursday. “If members want to condition or cut off U.S. security assistance to Saudi Arabia, then bring forward a bill to do just that.”

The House passed a similar resolution in February, but was forced to vote again on the subject because of language Republicans added to the measure condemning anti-Semitism. The language, offered in response to controversial remarks from Representative Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., meant the Senate had to vote on its own version of the resolution, not the one the House passed, which in turn required another vote in the House.

Republicans attempted a similar procedural tactic on Thursday, but unlike the last pass through the House, Democrats struck down the attempt to add language condemning the movement advocating the boycotting, divestment and sanctioning of Israel, known by the acronym BDS.

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