The Senate is on the precipice of rebuking President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Republicans move to block Yemen war-powers votes for rest of Congress Trump says he’s considering 10 to 12 contenders for chief of staff Michael Flynn asks judge to spare him from jail time MORE over the killing of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi, who along with other journalists was honored Tuesday as Time’s “Person of the Year.”
The Senate is expected to vote Wednesday on a resolution to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen. If successful, it would represent a significant shift for the Senate, which in March pigeonholed the same measure.
“I am optimistic that a bipartisan coalition of senators will vote to make clear that the United States will no longer support Saudi Arabia’s despotic regime in its incredibly destructive war,” Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersCoal supporter Manchin named top Dem on Senate Energy Committee Gillum to speak at gathering of top Dem donors: report O’Rourke edges out Biden in MoveOn straw poll MORE (I-Vt.) said on Tuesday.
The resolution, spearheaded by Sanders and Sens. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyGOP fights piling up for McConnell Corker to introduce resolution holding Saudi crown prince ‘responsible’ for Khashoggi’s death Overnight Defense: Dunford expected to finish Joint Chiefs term | House lawmakers pushing for Yemen vote | Pentagon says a few hundred troops leaving border MORE (D-Conn.) and Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeGOP fights piling up for McConnell Corker to introduce resolution holding Saudi crown prince ‘responsible’ for Khashoggi’s death This week: Trump, Dems set to meet amid funding fight MORE (R-Utah), requires Trump to withdraw any troops in or “affecting” Yemen within 30 days unless they are fighting al Qaeda.
Because senators are bringing it up under the War Powers Act, they only need a simple majority to get it through the Senate. Supporters and opponents say they are confident it will have the votes to pass.
Aides say they expect the Senate to vote to begin debate on the measure on Wednesday afternoon. Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerCorker to introduce resolution holding Saudi crown prince ‘responsible’ for Khashoggi’s death This week: Trump, Dems set to meet amid funding fight Congress digs in for prolonged Saudi battle MORE (R-Tenn.), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is then expected to try to force any amendments to the resolution to be on topic.
The war powers fight is uncharted waters for the Senate, which has increasingly ceded war authority to the White House in recent decades. How they handle the Yemen effort could have lasting ramifications for future battles.
Unless there is a deal to keep amendments on-topic, some senators worry a series of unrelated measures could be raised and set a damaging precedent for the use of war powers resolutions going forward.
“If we proceed to the bill [and] then it’s subject to a vote-a-rama … I think there’s a bipartisan interest in avoiding that,” said Sen. John CornynJohn CornynOval Office clash ups chances of shutdown On The Money: Trump, Dems battle over border wall before cameras | Clash ups odds of shutdown | Senators stunned by Trump’s shutdown threat | Pelosi calls wall ‘a manhood thing’ for Trump Senators dumbfounded by Trump vow to shut down government MORE (Texas), the No. 2 Senate Republican.
Corker predicted that supporters of the Yemen resolution and “good governance” GOP senators would agree to limit amendments, preventing lawmakers from using the war fight to force votes on unrelated, and potentially controversial, pieces of legislation.
“There will be a whole lot of good government Republicans who don’t want to see the Senate turned into — on a War Powers Act — turned into a silly vote-a-thon,” he added.
Wednesday’s vote comes after 14 Republicans, including Corker, voted to kick the resolution out of the Foreign Relations Committee late last month.
Several of those senators, however, said they were advancing the measure to send a message to Saudi Arabia, not because of the substance of the measure.
Murphy said he is confident that all 49 Democrats will support the Yemen resolution, meaning only two GOP votes would be needed for passage.
Republicans are still crafting a separate resolution that they are hoping to bring up this week that would name the Saudi crown prince “responsible” for Khashoggi’s death.
Corker, who has been negotiating with GOP leadership, said he wanted to try to “rule 14” the resolution, which would allow it to skip over the committee process and go straight to the Senate calendar, where it would be available for a vote.
He said passage of the measure would send a strong U.S. signal of outrage to Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is believed by the U.S. intelligence community to have been behind the killing of Khashoggi on Oct. 2 at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.
“A strong denouncing of a crown prince and holding them responsible for the murder of a journalist. It’s a pretty strong statement for the United States Senate to be making, assuming we can get a vote on it,” Corker told reporters this week.
Khashoggi and a number of other journalists, including two writers imprisoned in Myanmar and journalists at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Md., where a gunman killed five people earlier this year, were honored as “Guardians” by Time.
Time Editor-in-Chief Edward Felsenthal wrote that they were given the award “for taking great risks in pursuit of greater truths, for the imperfect but essential quest for facts that are central to civil discourse” and “for speaking up and for speaking out.”
Corker’s resolution comes as Republican leaders have grappled with how to respond to Khashoggi’s killing.
Passing either, or both, of the resolutions would mark a significant break with the White House for Republicans, though House GOP leadership has been noncommittal about moving a bill by the end of the year.
The House is expected to be briefed Thursday on Khashoggi’s death. Corker is hoping that an overwhelming vote for his Khashoggi-focused resolution would put pressure on the House to pass it this month.
Meanwhile, the House is expected to be briefed Thursday on Khashoggi’s death. A Democratic aide said Reps. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaHouse Republicans move to block Yemen war-powers votes for rest of Congress Overnight Defense: Dunford expected to finish Joint Chiefs term | House lawmakers pushing for Yemen vote | Pentagon says a few hundred troops leaving border House lawmakers push Yemen resolution as Senate nears vote MORE (D-Calif.) and Thomas MassieThomas Harold MassieHouse Republicans move to block Yemen war-powers votes for rest of Congress Overnight Defense: Dunford expected to finish Joint Chiefs term | House lawmakers pushing for Yemen vote | Pentagon says a few hundred troops leaving border House lawmakers push Yemen resolution as Senate nears vote MORE (R-Ky.) “will be pushing for floor action by the end of the year” on a war powers resolution in the House.
Senators, as of Tuesday afternoon, were still scrambling over a potential agreement to let the Foreign Relations Committee mark up a broader bill from Sens. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezMore oversight of America’s international media networks a good idea Pro-Israel organizations should finally seek payback against Iran deal Dems Trump lowers refugee goal to 30,000, he must meet it MORE (D-N.J.) and Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungOvernight Defense: Dunford expected to finish Joint Chiefs term | House lawmakers pushing for Yemen vote | Pentagon says a few hundred troops leaving border This week: Trump, Dems set to meet amid funding fight Congress digs in for prolonged Saudi battle MORE (R-Ind.) that would require sanctions within 30 days on anyone involved in Khashoggi’s death, including “any official of the government of Saudi Arabia or member of the royal family” determined to be involved. The amendment would also suspend weapons sales to Saudi Arabia.
Corker said he has also requested that the bill be amended to include a one-year suspension of arms sales to Saudi Arabia instead of a two-year suspension.
The Tennessee Republican said he and Menendez are still negotiating, but he wasn’t optimistic about a deal.
“I had high hopes this morning,” he told The Hill. “Not so much now.”