In a 21-77 vote on Thursday, the Senate rejected a bill from Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) aiming to block a $300 million arms sale to Bahrain. The bill was heavily opposed by the White House.
Bahrain is among the participants in the Saudi-led, US-backed war in Yemen, and failing to secure the arms deal might’ve obliged them to quit the conflict. This was seen as a major goal of the bill, to both pare back the Yemen War in general, and US involvement in supporting the invasion in particular.
Widespread killing of civilians and general war crimes in Yemen have some in Congress looking to get the US out of Yemen. There seems to be more support for this in the House, though the House leadership has twice changed rules at the last minute to prevent direct votes on US involvement in Yemen.
Today’s vote suggests that the Senate is still broadly in line with the administration’s priorities of increasing arms sales irrespective of the human rights consequences. Bahrain’s status as host of the US Fifth Fleet also had some senators arguing that the tiny island nation is simply too important to cross.