Arms Makers’ Campaign Contributions Loom Large Over Vote on Saudi Arms Sales

With Billions on the Line, Industry Has Bought a Lot of Influence

The State Department is starting to parcel out the first small portions of President Trump’s arms deal with Saudi Arabia, which is expected to be worth $110 billion in the first year and at least $360 billion over the next decade, slowly ramping up before Congressional opponents have a chance to vote on the matter.

Concerns over Saudi human rights violations and the impact of the massive sale on both the region in general and on America’s perception as the primary provider for the Saudi war crimes have fueled bills in Congress aimed to limit, if not outright prohibit, a lot of the sales.

That may be easier said than done, however. Though there are some in Congress who have consistently opposed arms sales like this one to Saudi Arabia, the deep-pocketed defense industry is also a big time campaign donor which has bought a lot of influence across Congress.

With large US arms makers anticipating making tens of billions of dollars on the deal, their influence is likely to be a major factor in any Congressional votes that might imperil those sales. It’s likely to make votes to block anything more than a token amount of the overall sale.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.