Senators Look to End Yemen War With First-Ever War Powers Challenge

US involvement in Saudi invasion never authorized by Congress

A bipartisan effort by four senators is looking to end the US military’s involvement in the Saudi-led war in Yemen, with the introduction of the first ever War Powers Act vote to come out of the Senate.

Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Rand Paul (R-KY), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Chris Murphy (D-CT) are forwarding the bill, which notes that Congress has never authorized the use of military force in Yemen. This should allow Congress to oblige the administration to end US involvement in the war. Sens. Sanders and Lee had a formal press conference Wednesday.

The US has participated in the Saudi invasion of Yemen since it began in 2015, with US planes performing mid-air refueling missions for Saudi bombers, and US warships at times participating in the Saudi-led naval blockade which is causing mass starvation in Yemen.

Efforts in the House late last year to challenge the Yemen war under the War Powers Act were blocked by the leadership, which replaced it with a non-binding resolution confirming that Congress never authorized a war on Yemen’s Shi’ite Houthi movement, which passed 366-30.

These same senators tried to push a bill last summer to block arms sales to Saudi Arabia, though this narrowly failed. Since then, they and other critics of the Yemen operation have criticized Saudi war crimes, and noted the danger of having the US so deeply involved in these war crimes.

Sen. Lee in particular asked whether US involvement in a Yemeni civil war was really a national priority, noting that “astoundingly, this is a question that has never been fully discussed or debated.” He urged US involvement to be paused for a “responsible debate.”

While the House is unlikely to directly weigh in on this matter, Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI) and Barbara Lee (D-CA) are holding a hearing on the possibility of repealing the 2001 US Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF). While the 2001 AUMF clearly doesn’t cover Yemen in the first place, it’s been used as a go-to pretext for virtually every US adventure abroad.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.