The Senate delivered a stunning rebuke to the Trump administration on Wednesday, voting overwhelmingly to advance a measure yanking U.S. support for Saudi-backed forces at war in Yemen.
The 63-37 vote, in which 14 Republicans joined every Democrat in voting to move forward on the bipartisan Saudi resolution, came hours after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis failed to sway key undecided senators with an appeal to hold off lest they upset progress of nascent talks on a ceasefire in Yemen.
Pompeo and Mattis briefed all senators in a rare classified briefing ahead of the chamber’s vote on a bid to end American support for the Saudis’ side in the bloody Yemeni war. The Cabinet members’ pitch fell short for Republicans and Democrats alike who want President Donald Trump’s administration to take a harder line on Saudi Arabia after the killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi — a murder linked to the highest levels of Riyadh’s government.
“I found their briefing today to be lacking. I found that in substance we’re not doing those things that we should be doing to appropriately balance our relationship with Saudi Arabia between our American interests and our American values,” Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said in a floor speech before supporting the key procedural vote on the measure. [Continue reading…]