The Senate Just Issued a Historic Rebuke to Trump and Unauthorized War.

The United States is enabling war crimes in Yemen, and even Trump’s most vocal enablers are turning against him on this one. The U.S. Senate just took the unprecedented step of voting to end U.S. support for Saudi war crimes in Yemen, since Trump won’t do it himself.

Yet again, Trump is siding with authoritarians over Americans.

It is clear by now that American resident, Washington Post contributor, and frequent Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi was murdered in a Saudi consulate in Turkey, based on orders from the highest levels of the Saudi government.

It is also clear that Trump has no plans to meaningfully hold the Saudis accountable. Over and over, he and his administration keep echoing Saudi talking points and participating in the cover-up.

There’s now a pattern: from Vladimir Putin to Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Trump would rather stand with hostile foreign regimes than the American people.

Here’s what you need to know about what just happened in Congress.

Why won’t Trump hold the Saudis accountable on his own?

It shouldn’t be that hard for Trump to denounce Saudi Arabia’s murder of an American resident and take steps to actually hold them accountable—so why isn’t he doing that?

As usual, Trump has given us clues by saying the quiet part out loud. He’s spoken openly about the billions of dollars the Saudis spend on American weapons, padding defense contractors’ pockets. (By the way: war profiteering long predates the Trump administration, Trump just admits it bluntly).

But there’s more. Trump and his war cabinet are obsessed with “countering Iran” (read: building up to a new war) and consider Saudi Arabia an important ally in doing that.

Additionally, as is so often the case with Trump, his foreign policy is guided by his own corruption and conflicts of interest. The Saudis pour millions into Trump’s hotel business, and he has stated openly that these business entanglements are a major reason he doesn’t want to criticize them.

What does Yemen have to do with this?

It’s clear that Trump will continue to cover for the Saudis. But Congress is no longer covering for Trump. Since Trump won’t act, our elected representatives have now taken steps to hold the Saudis accountable for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

Investigations and sanctions aren’t enough. While it’s a positive development that there is bipartisan support for sanctions on Saudis, the biggest point of leverage that the United States has with the Saudis is military support. The Saudis rely on the United States in order to acquire war weapons, and to carry out the disastrous war in Yemen.

Bottom line: the Saudi government murdered a U.S. resident in order to silence him. The Saudi government depends heavily on U.S. military assistance. The best opportunity to hold the Saudis accountable is to withdraw U.S. support for their war crimes in Yemen.

What exactly is the war in Yemen? How is the U.S. involved?

It’s a complicated situation but, in short: Yemen is involved in a civil war, with Saudi Arabia leading a coalition to support one side, and Iran supporting the other side. Many experts characterize it as a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

The United States supports the Saudi-led coalition. This has mainly involved providing refueling services for airstrikes, and sharing intelligence for targeting. This support is essential to the continuation of Saudi’s air campaign that continues to target civilian areas and vital civilian infrastructure in violation of international law.

Feeling the pressure, the Trump administration announced they would stop the refueling services. But that’s not enough—the U.S. needs to stop ALL participation in the Yemen war and all arms sales to the Saudis.

The Yemen civil war has created the largest humanitarian crisis in the world. Yemen was already the poorest country in the Middle East, and the war has only made a bad situation worse. It’s the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, and the United States is complicit.

This war didn’t start with Trump—the United States has been helping the Saudis commit war crimes in Yemen for years now. But Trump’s administration has doubled down by increasing the U.S. military’s role in the Yemen conflict and increasing arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

There’s another huge factor here: this war is not only terrible policy, it’s completely unconstitutional. Congress, not the President, is supposed to decide where we go to war and when. And Congress has never authorized this war.

What Just Happened in Congress?

By a vote of 56-41, the U.S. Senate passed S. J. Res. 54, a measure to end the unauthorized and immoral U.S. support for the Saudi war in Yemen. This is the first time the Senate has ever used the War Powers Resolution to vote to end an unauthorized war.

They then followed it up with a unanimous declaration that that the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia is responsible for Khashoggi’s murder. They are doing what Trump will not do.

By the way: it’s pretty likely that the House would pass this Yemen resolution too,  if only Paul Ryan would put it on the floor. Instead, he helped slip a provision to block it from the House floor into an unrelated procedural vote on the annual farm bill (confusing, we know! That’s Republican shenanigans for you….) Republicans didn’t have enough votes to approve this trick on their own and, unfortunately, five Democrats sided with the GOP to stop the House from even voting on Yemen:

  • Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16)

  • Rep. Al Lawson (FL-5)

  • Rep. David Scott (GA-13)

  • Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (MD-2)

  • Rep. Collin Peterson (MN-7)

Take a look at the votes to see how your MoCs did. Some of them need accountability:

  • If your House Representative was one of the five Democrats who voted FOR the procedural move that stopped the House from even debating or voting on Yemen, call them and tell them how disappointed you are and urge them to support a debate and vote on the House floor to remove U.S. support for Saudi war crimes in Yemen the next time it comes up. Here’s that roll call.

  • If your senators voted AGAINST the Yemen resolution in the Senate, call them and express your outrage. Tell them that Yemen is the largest humanitarian disaster in the world, and that the U.S. is complicit as long as it keeps supporting the Saudi’s atrocities there. Urge them to support the resolution in the next Congress. Here’s the Senate roll call.

There are lots of senators who should be thanked for taking a bold stance, rebuking Trump, and taking a step to end U.S.-supported atrocities in Yemen.

  • If your senators voted FOR the Yemen resolution, be sure to call them and make sure they know they have your support. It certainly won’t be the last time that Congress grapples with this issue, and they should know their constituents back them up on this. Here’s that Senate vote tally again.

Checks and balances are meaningless if Congress doesn’t exercise them. Be sure your MoCs know that you support them in taking back their war powers, holding Trump (and the Saudis) accountable, and working to promote the end of U.S-enabled atrocities in Yemen.