Push to Override Trump Yemen Veto Fails in Senate

A view of the site of an airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition in Sanaa, Yemen. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)

WASHINGTON (CN) – A congressional bid to end the U.S. support of the war in Yemen fell short on Thursday, as the Senate could not override President Donald Trump’s veto of the resolution.

Last month, Trump vetoed the measure, which would have required the United States to pull its aid from the Saudi-led efforts in the ongoing conflict. A bipartisan majority of both houses passed the resolution, the first time Congress has voted to use the War Powers Act to end U.S. involvement in a foreign war.

Trump’s veto was expected, as the administration has consistently said U.S. forces are only involved in the conflict in a supporting role, primarily providing logistical support and sharing intelligence information.  The White House also says the measure would hurt relationships between the United States and key allies in the region.

The Senate’s attempt to override the veto failed on Thursday afternoon in a 53-45 vote. The measure required a two-thirds majority to pass and override the veto.

Speaking on the Senate floor before the vote on Thursday morning, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., cited the administration’s arguments in urging his colleagues to vote against the resolution.

“Abandoning our Yemeni, Emirati and Saudi partners just as diplomatic efforts are starting to make progress is hardly the way to give them the confidence to take the hard diplomatic steps that are necessary,” McConnell said. “An abrupt withdrawal of U.S. support for the coalition would be good news for Iran, for the Houthi rebels they support and for al-Qaeda.”

Lawmakers who supported the resolution called U.S. involvement in the war unconstitutional, noting Congress never approved the use of U.S. troops in the conflict. Senator Bernie Sanders, a Vermont Independent and vocal supporter of the resolution, said Thursday the resolution gives Congress a historic chance to grab back power it has given over to the executive branch. 

“Mr. President, for far too long, the United States Congress under both Democratic and Republican administrations has abdicated its constitutional role with regard to the authorization of war,” Sanders said on the Senate floor.

The United Nations has called the situation in Yemen the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, with 8.4 million people in the country at risk of starvation and millions more in need of some type of humanitarian aid.

The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project estimated last month that the war has killed more than 70,000 people since 2016, including more than 7,000 civilians.

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