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.
The U.S. military launched airstrikes against government forces in Syria today.
Under the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution, Congress has the sole authority to decide when U.S. military force will be used if the U.S. has not been attacked. Congress never authorized Trump to attack Syria, which has not attacked the U.S.
Rep. Ted Lieu [D-CA] stated: "If true, this is FRICKIN ILLEGAL. Trump does not have Congressional authorization to attack Syria, a country that has not attacked US."
In January, Obama deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said part of why Obama didn't attack Syria unilaterally - without Congress' approval - was fear of impeachment. "[W]e had no domestic legal basis. We actually had Congress warning us against taking action without congressional authorization, which we interpreted as the president could face impeachment," Rhodes said. "They laid down markers that this would not be constitutional. If we got drawn into a conflict in Syria without congressional authorization, without international authorization, without international support, you can see very clearly how that could have completely derailed this entire presidency."
Ivanka Trump could single-handedly save millions of lives by urging her father to spare the Yemeni port of Hodeida from military assault.
Urge her to do so by signing our petition at MoveOn.
President Trump has pushed to increase the Pentagon budget at the expense of human needs at home and abroad. The Congressional Progressive Caucus is pushing back in its proposed budget, "The People's Budget." A coalition of organizations has joined together to support The People's Budget, and Just Foreign Policy is a member of this coalition.
You can read about The People's Budget, and show your support, here.
On Thursday April 27, a bipartisan group of nine U.S. Senators wrote to the ambassador of Saudi Arabia demanding that Saudi Arabia spare the Yemeni port city of Hodeida from military assault to avoid pushing Yemen into famine. The nine Senators were: Todd Young (R-IN), Chris Murphy (D-CT), John Boozman (R-AR), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Christopher Coons (D-DL) and Ed Markey (D-MA).
Urge your representatives to stand with the nine Senators demanding that "Hodeida must be spared" by signing our petition at MoveOn.
The nine Senators made five demands to help “Prevent Millions of Innocent Yemenis From Starving to Death":
- Lend full support to Secretary Mattis’ call for a political settlement in Yemen.
- Refrain from bombing the port of Hodeida and call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire around the port.
- Reform the inspection regime at the port of Hodeida to eliminate unnecessary delays in the delivery of severely needed humanitarian and commercial supplies.
- Facilitate the delivery of cranes to the port of Hodeida to increase humanitarian aid and commercial capacity.
- Redouble efforts to ensure airstrikes do not hit key economic facilities and civilian infrastructure.
Urge your representatives to join the nine Senators in telling Saudi Arabia "Hodeida must be spared" by signing and sharing our petition.
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."
Progressive French presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon - the "French Bernie Sanders" - is now a "frontrunner" in the first round of the French presidential election. That is giving him an unprecedented platform in global media, which he has used, among other things, to challenge Trump's military attack on Syria. When he addressed tens of thousands of people in Toulouse Sunday, the crowd roared when Mélenchon slammed Trump over Trump's illegal attack on Syria. "No Frenchman can accept a global gendarme who decided all by himself the good and the bad," Mélenchon said.
Urge Mélenchon to challenge Trump's support for Saudi Arabia's catastrophic war in Yemen by signing our petition at MoveOn.
As a leader of what will soon be the only EU country with a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, Mélenchon has a unique ability to serve as a "check and balance" on Trump's global warmongering. It was France that led the global opposition to Bush's illegal 2003 invasion of Iraq. If Mélenchon can stand up to Trump on Syria, he can stand up to Trump on Saudi Arabia's catastrophic war in Yemen, which the Trump Administration wants to escalate. Trump Administration officials want to help Saudi Arabia and the UAE attack the Yemeni port of Hodeida, which the UN, aid groups, former US officials, and 55 Members of the House have warned would likely push Yemen into famine.
Urge Mélenchon to challenge Trump's support for Saudi Arabia's catastrophic war in Yemen by signing and sharing our petition.
On April 6, President Trump attacked Syria without Congressional authorization, violating the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution. On April 8, he said he would take additional action as he deemed necessary. He has not yet agreed to seek Congressional authorization before further military action.
Representative Zoe Lofgren [CA-19] is circulating a bipartisan letter to President Trump, demanding that he seek Congressional authorization before further military action in Syria. The Lofgren letter echoes a bipartisan 2013 letter led by then-Republican Representative Scott Rigell to then-President Obama, pressing him to come to Congress before U.S. military action in Syria. 
Urge your Representative to support the Lofgren letter by signing our petition at MoveOn.
On April 10, 55 Members of the House sent a bipartisan letter to President Trump and Attorney General Sessions demanding that President Trump seek authorization from Congress before escalating militarily in Yemen. Rep. Mark Pocan said, “Administration officials have proposed the U.S. participate directly in an attack on Yemen's major port. Such an attack could push the country into full-blown famine...this letter is a first step in reasserting our Constitutional check on presidential powers. I am committed to pursuing all tools at our disposal to ensure President Trump abides by our Constitution before possibly plunging our country into another senseless conflict.” Rep. Ted Lieu said, “President Trump does not have the authority to send U.S. forces to battle the Houthis in Yemen, period."
Press your representatives to pledge to invoke the War Powers Resolution when they return from recess to explicitly prohibit military escalation in Syria and Yemen by signing our petition on MoveOn.
On April 6, President Trump attacked Syria without congressional authorization. Many Members of Congress have said that President Trump did not have authority for this attack and that the President must seek authorization from Congress before any further military action.
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.