Months of battles in Congress to challenge the US war in Yemen under the War Powers Act is coming to a key moment, a vote in the Senate on Wednesday. The SJ Res 7 resolution is a clean version of the challenge, without any amendments yet attached.
Saudi Arabia attacked Yemen in March of 2015, seeking to reinstall former President Hadi and remove the Shi’ite Houthi movement. The US backed the Saudi invasion, and has participated military, both in refueling Saudi warplanes, and in a naval blockade of Yemen.
Legal challenges in 2018 were repeatedly stalled in the House of Representatives, where the leadership changed rules to prevent a War Powers Act challenge, which would point out that the war was never authorized by Congress. The Senate did ultimately pass such a challenge in late 2018, but without a House version, they both had to start anew with the 2019 Congress.
Under new leadership, the House managed to pass a War Powers Act resolution in mid-February with a strong majority. It was at this point that the Senate leadership started blocking the vote, arguing that because the House bill had an amendment tacked on expressing support for Israel, it was no longer a privileged War Powers Act resolution, and instead just an Israel resolution, that could be held up indefinitely.
This forced the Senate to start over again, with a fresh resolution and no amendments, which is what will happen on Wednesday. It remains to be seen what tricks will be at play to try to keep this from ending the war, but recent history suggests the leadership will try something to protect the war from legal challenge.
A clean Senate resolution would still have to go back to the House, as well, to come up with a reconciled version. That’s likely to be a messy business, after trying to kill the bill by making it all about Israel. President Trump has threatened to veto the bill at any rate, but it is possible that there could be an override attempt, as the Yemen War is increasingly unpopular.
Contact information for Senators is available here. Those wishing to call their Senators should do so before tomorrow’s votes, and tell them to support SJ Res 7. Getting as big a majority as possible is key, as it will be used as a metric to judge the possibility of overriding a veto.
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