Recently signed by President Trump, the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) sought to place limits on US involvement in the Yemen War, and mandated new reports to Congress regarding involvement. President Trump said in his signing statement he won’t honor those limits, arguing that the war limits violate his role as commander in chief, and the reports put an undue burden on the Pentagon.
This week, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) is taking another crack at defunding the war, with an amendment to the Defense Appropriations Act of 2019, which is coming up for debate in the Senate. This amendment withdraws all funding, prohibiting the Pentagon from spending any money on the Yemen War.
This is the only realistic recourse Congress has to President Trump’s refusal to abide by NDAA limitations, The power of the purse allows Congress to defund conflicts, and Sen. Murphy says it is particularly vital in this case, because the war is unconstitutional and never authorized by Congress.
Previous debates over Yemen in Congress saw administration officials conceding that the war was never authorized, but the Pentagon also falsely claiming that the US wasn’t directly involved in the conflict.
Continued US involvement has become increasingly controversial, particularly as the civilian death toll skyrockets. Earlier this month, a Saudi war plane attacked a Yemeni school bus, killing at least 42 children. The bomb they dropped was made by Lockheed Martin, a US company.
This is the latest in a long line of massacres involving US-provided arms, US-provided planes, and Pentagon facilitated attacks. While Congressional leadership hasn’t always been eager to allow debate, there is substantial concern about US culpability in Saudi war crimes.
There is not a specific timetable for the vote on the Murphy Amendment, but business related to the Appropriations Act is expected to begin Monday afternoon, which means that the amendment will almost certainly come up for a vote in the next few days.
Those wishing to contact their Senators in support of the Murphy Amendment should do so as soon as possible. Contact information can be found here.