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Saudi-Yemen War-Famine Senate Vote: Praise & Punish

On June 13, 2017, the Senate narrowly failed to vote against Trump's Saudi arms deal, reflecting "mounting concern over the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen’s war," according to the New York Times. "Nearly half of the U.S. Senate sent an overwhelmingly clear message to Riyadh that ... it needs to stop killing civilians in Yemen," Human Rights Watch said. [1] The vote was 47-53, with 43 Democrats and 4 Republicans voting against Saudi Arabia and 48 Republicans and five Democrats voting in favor of Saudi Arabia. The Republicans voting against Saudi Arabia's imposition of famine in Yemen were Heller (R-NV), Lee (R-UT), Paul (R-KY), and Young (R-IN). The Democrats voting in favor of Saudi Arabia's imposition of famine in Yemen were Donnelly (D-IN), Manchin (D-WV), McCaskill (D-MO), Nelson (D-FL), and Warner (D-VA). Special scorn goes to Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who, while Republican, pretends to care about human rights. Yet Rubio voted to support Saudi Arabia's imposition of famine in Yemen. [2] Special praise goes to Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who excoriated Saudi Arabia's export of extremist ideology in a fiery speech on the Senate floor. [3]

Call your Senators at 1-855-68-NO-WAR [1-855-686-6927]. If they voted against Saudi Arabia, say: "Thank you for voting against Saudi Arabia's imposition of famine in Yemen." If they voted in favor of Saudi Arabia, say: "Shame on you for voting to support Saudi Arabia's imposition of famine in Yemen."

When you've made your calls, please report them below.

Then "Praise and punish" your Senators by signing and sharing our petition at MoveOn.

Congress: Vote NO on Trump's Saudi Arms Deal

There's a big Congressional fight coming on Trump's Saudi arms deal. This deal is controversial because Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are using U.S. weapons to kill civilians and destroy civilian infrastructure in Yemen, deliberately trying to create famine in Yemen; and because Trump's Saudi arms deal is widely seen as a U.S. seal of approval for escalation of the catastrophic Saudi-UAE war and blockade.

Under the Arms Export Control Act, Congress has thirty days to pass a resolution of disapproval to block the deal. Senators Chris Murphy [D-CT] and Rand Paul [R-KY] and Representatives Mark Pocan [D-WI] and Justin Amash [R-MI] are expected to introduce resolutions of disapproval within days.

On June 16, 2016, the House narrowly failed to block the transfer of cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia. 90% of Democrats and 20% of Republicans voted against giving Saudi Arabia these intrinsically anti-civilian weapons. To block Trump's Saudi arms deal, we have to make this be like the House Saudi cluster bomb vote, and then do just a little better than that - a few more Democrats and/or a few more Republicans.

Senate: Don't Imitate "Catch-22." Don't Arm People We're Bombing in Yemen

General Mattis wants to increase U.S. support for Saudi Arabia's catastrophic war in Yemen, which has pushed Yemen to the brink of famine, including by selling Saudi Arabia even more weapons. In addition to producing humanitarian catastrophe, Saudi Arabia's war is helping Al Qaeda in Yemen. Imitating war profiteer Milo Minderbender in Joseph Heller's Catch-22, who fights on both sides and bombs his own squadron to increase his profits, by selling arms to Saudi Arabia, we indirectly arm Al Qaeda in Yemen, who we're also bombing.

Urge the Senate to address Saudi-Al Qaeda ties before selling more weapons by signing our petition at MoveOn.

"In their fight against Yemen’s Houthi rebels," Just Security reports, "the government of Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, and its Saudi backers, have worked with local actors with suspected ties to al-Qaeda. Sometimes this means the targets being tracked by the US are actually cutting deals and getting their hands on weapons thanks to connections they have with the Hadi government and the Saudi-led coalition, to which the US provides support. Laying bare these thorny battlefield alliances in Yemen is crucial as the Trump administration considers stepping up US military involvement in the country."

Join Murphy, Paul, Durbin & Franken: Block Selling Arms to Saudis to Kill Civilians

Saudi Arabia's war and blockade have pushed Yemen to the brink of famine. But the Trump Administration wants to sell Saudi Arabia even more weapons. Under U.S. law, weapons exports are supposed to be conditioned on requirements that civilians be protected from their use. Unfortunately, Congressional "oversight" of U.S. weapons exports has often been virtually absent, particularly for countries like Saudi Arabia that have bought a lot of influence in Washington.

Senators Murphy, Paul, Durbin and Franken have now introduced Senate Joint Resolution 40, which would tighten these requirements in the case of Saudi Arabia. Under SJRes40, the Administration would have to publicly certify that Saudi Arabia is complying with international humanitarian law in Yemen and facilitating the flow of aid into Yemen in order for arms sales to proceed.

On September 21, 27 Senators voted against arming Saudi Arabia. The more Senators co-sponsor SJRes40, the more Senate support we have for blocking the sale of weapons if Saudi Arabia doesn't change its behavior in Yemen.

Urge Senators to co-sponsor SJRes40 by signing our petition at MoveOn.

Oppose Iraq War Architect John Bolton as National Security Adviser

Iraq war architect and Iran war advocate John Bolton is reportedly one of four candidates being interviewed for National Security Adviser. CNN says there are "signs of strong support inside and outside the administration for Bolton."

Urge your representatives to oppose the nomination of John Bolton to be National Security Adviser by signing our petition at MoveOn.

Foreign Service veteran Greg Thielmann calls Bolton a "prime mover of the Iraq WMD fiasco." Senator Rand Paul calls Bolton a "bad choice" who contradicts Trump's criticisms of the Iraq war, noting that "Bolton still believes the Iraq War was a good idea, he still believes regime change is a good idea." J Street says Bolton is a "completely inappropriate choice" for "any role related to America’s relations with the rest of the world."

Urge President Trump and Congress to oppose the nomination of John Bolton to be National Security Adviser by signing and sharing our petition.

No to U.S. Ground Troops in Syria!

CNN has reported that the Defense Department "might propose that the US send conventional ground combat forces into northern Syria for the first time," and that the move would "significantly alter US military operations in Syria if approved and could put troops on the ground within weeks." CNN says "one goal of their presence would be to help reassure Turkey that Kurdish forces are not posing a threat to Ankara's interests." "Reassuring Turkey" a terrible reason to deploy U.S. troops to danger in Syria.

Urge your Reps. to say sending ground troops to Syria is a terrible idea by signing our petition at MoveOn.

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul says, "It would be a really rotten, no good, bad idea to have ground troops in Syria." Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy says, "Sending combat troops into Syria would make the unforced errors of the first four weeks look like child's play." California Representative Ted Lieu says, "As Member of House Foreign Affairs Committee, I want to say that sending ground troops to Syria is a VERY BAD IDEA."

Urge your Senators and Representative to join Chris Murphy, Rand Paul, and Ted Lieu in denouncing the idea of sending U.S. ground troops to Syria by signing and sharing our petition.

Call-in: Tell your Senator to Set New Conditions on Military Aid to Saudi Arabia

Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) have introduced legislation to prevent the U.S. from continuing to support Saudi-led military campaigns in places like Yemen where Saudi Arabia's year-long campaign has led to a devastating humanitarian crisis and a security vacuum that has empowered our terrorist enemies al Qaeda and ISIS. The Murphy-Paul bipartisan legislation will require the President to formally certify that the government of Saudi Arabia is demonstrating an ongoing effort to target terrorist groupsminimize harm to civilians, and facilitate humanitarian assistance before Congress can consider the sale or transfer of air-to-ground munitions to Saudi Arabia. 

Urge your Senator to co-sponsor the Murphy-Paul bill by calling their office now at (202) 224-3121. When you reach a staffer, you can say something like:

"The civil war we've supplied in Yemen is prolonging human suffering in Yemen and aiding groups that are intent on attacking us. I urge you to support the Murphy-Paul bill to place new conditions on U.S. military aid to Saudi Arabia." 

When you've made your call, please report it below.

And if you haven't signed our petition at MoveOn yet, you can do that here.

This Week, Senate Democrats Can Limit the ISIS War

At long last, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is expected to vote this week on an authorization for the use of force for the war against ISIS that started in early August. There is little doubt that a majority of the committee supports the use of force against ISIS. What will be revealed this week is what limits the committee will support in authorizing the use of force.

U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Virginia), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has proposed to prohibit the use of U.S. ground troops in combat except for rescue missions and "limited operations against high-value targets" -- that is, against terrorist leaders who directly threaten the United States. Kaine's proposed authorization would expire in one year unless renewed by Congress and would require the White House to give legislators a list of groups that might be covered by the authorization because they are associated with the Islamic State.

Senator Rand Paul Calls the Question on War with Iran

Before we have a war with Iran, shouldn't the Senate and the House have at least one debate and vote on it? Isn't that what the Constitution demands? Isn't that what is demanded by the War Powers Resolution (which, despite its name, is binding law)?

If you agree to the principle that Congress should debate and vote on a war with Iran before any such war takes place (which also happens to be the Constitution and the law), when do you think a good time would be for the Senate and the House to start taking up the question? Should we wait until after there is further escalation? Should we wait until after some real or invented Persian Gulf of Tonkin incident, when Members of Congress can be steamrolled by cable news and right-wing talk radio? Or should we start having the debate now, when rational argument still has a chance, so that Members of Congress will be forced to choose sides between American generals, who oppose war with Iran, and the Israeli Prime Minister, who wants war with Iran?

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul thinks we should have the debate right now.

On Tuesday, Sen. Paul took to the Senate floor to oppose unanimous consent of a new Iran sanctions bill so he could introduce an amendment that would ensure that nothing in the act shall be construed as a declaration of war or an authorization of the use of force against Iran or Syria, and affirm that any use of military force must be authorized by Congress.

War-Weary Republicans Rebuke Romney on Afghanistan

On Wednesday night, the Senate adopted by voice vote an amendment introduced by Oregon Democrat Jeff Merkley calling on President Obama to speed up U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan. This was a watershed event towards ending the war. The previous high water mark of Senators calling for expedited withdrawal was 27; the previous high water mark on a vote was 18. The vote is a green light from the Senate to the White House for a faster military withdrawal that would save many American and Afghan lives and (at least) many tens of billions of taxpayer dollars.

Because it was a voice vote, there was no roll call. But, if you want to know who especially to thank, 21 Senators sponsored Merkley's amendment:

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR); Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT); Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM); Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY); Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH); Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT); Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK); Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM); Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA); Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD); Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND); Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL); Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY); Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA); Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT); Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV); Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) ; Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV); Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT); Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY); Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)

The Senate vote - which saw John McCain standing alone in vocal opposition - is more evidence that on key issues of war and military spending, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, John McCain, Lindsay Graham and Buck McKeon haven't been speaking for Republicans generally.