Weeks after the House Rules Committee gutted the War Powers Act challenge to the legality of US military involvement in the Saudi invasion of Yemen, the House finally got a limited debate on the conflict and a token vote on a non-binding resolution that didn’t even propose an end to US involvement in the conflict.
Congress never authorized the use of military force against Yemen’s Shi’ites, which means US military involvement is illegal. The House Rules Committee dodged this vote by claiming that the specific legal challenge to the War Powers Act didn’t count.
After the House leadership backed this effort to kill an actual vote, they decided to allow the non-binding resolution. This offered some measure of public debate on the conflict, which is more than has happened in the previous two and a half years.
The 366-30-1 vote in favor of the resolution, however, means less than nothing, as the final text not only didn’t urge compliance with the War Powers Act, but in many ways appears to be an endorsement of the status quo.
The bill endorses the Saudi promise to “improve targeting capabilities,” and while it gives some lip-service to improving access to humanitarian aid to the starving nation, it also “condemns Iranian activities in Yemen,” back sanctions against Iran and backs efforts to keep Iranian weapons from reaching Yemen.
At the very least, officials underscored that the war was never authorized though Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) insisted it didn’t need to be, and it seems unlikely there will be any serious new pushes to enforce the law with respect to the conflict.
The sum of this resolution was useless enough that many Congressional hawks appear to have been perfectly comfortable with it, while many of the usual anti-war Representatives, who would’ve been the champions of the attempt to enforce the War Powers Act, voted against it.
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