Senate Blocks Voting on Amendment to Defund Yemen War Crimes
August 24, 2018
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com & Hon. Chris Murphy / US Senate
Sen. Chris Murphy's amendment to withdraw all funding for the US involvement in the war in Yemen was blocked by Senate leadership. According to the United Nations, up to one-third of all Saudi-led coalition airstrikes hit civilian targets. Data shows there has been a 37% increase in civilian casualties from airstrikes in 2018 compared to 2017.
Senate Blocks Voting on Amendment to Defund Yemen War
Amendment Won't Get Hearing for Defense Appropriations Act
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(August 22, 2018) -- Sen. Chris Murphy's (D-CT) amendment to withdraw all funding for the US involvement in the war in Yemen was blocked by Senate leadership on Wednesday, preventing it from getting a vote for inclusion in the 2019 Defense Appropriations Act.
There was language aiming to limit US involvement in Yemen in the 2019 NDAA, but President Trump's signing statement indicated that he doesn't intend to comply with that. This meant using control over the funding, through the appropriations act, was the next real chance to require compliance.
The Murphy Amendment said largely the same thing that the language in the NDAA said, except with the added threat of revoking funding. It seeks for the administration to certify that any US involvement complies with international law. President Trump objected to offering such a report to Congress.
Senate leaders complaining they felt that the appropriations act was too important to pass to allow it to be cluttered by amendments that limit where the war funding included in it goes. This means, barring another bid for a War Powers Act challenge, the unauthorized US involvement in the war will continue.
Murphy Amendment Cuts Off Funds for War in Yemen
Until Pentagon certifies Saudi-led coalition
Is not violating international law and US policy
Hon. Chris Murphy / US Senate
WASHINGTON (August 17, 2018) -- US Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on Friday announced an amendment to the FY 2019 Defense Appropriations bill that would cut off United States' support for the Saudi Arabia-led coalition's war in Yemen until the Secretary of Defense certified that the coalition's air campaign is not violating international law and US policy related to the protection of civilians.
The amendment comes in the wake of a horrific school bus bombing, which killed 44 children and 10 adults and highlighted the coalition's repeated strikes on innocent civilian targets.
"Either the Pentagon should be 100% certain that US weapons and funding aren't being used to commit war crimes in Yemen, or we should cut off US support right now. 44 innocent kids are now dead, joining the thousands of other civilians who have been murdered by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen," said Murphy.
"President Trump declared last week that he intended to ignore a new law that placed conditions on US support to the Saudi-led coalition -- passing this amendment would show that Congress wasn't messing around.
"For three years, administrations of both parties have promised that US assistance will improve the targeting, but things on the ground are getting worse, not better. We're enabling a war that is killing innocent people and not making us one bit safer -- that needs to stop."
According to the United Nations, up to one-third of all Saudi-led coalition airstrikes hit civilian targets. Data shows there has been a 37% increase in civilian casualties from airstrikes in 2018 compared to 2017 (up to 778 from 567).
Murphy has been a vocal critic of US support for military campaigns in Yemen that have led to devastating humanitarian consequences and a security vacuum that has empowered terrorist groups. Murphy has repeatedly expressed concern that US participation in Saudi Arabia's military actions against Houthi rebels in Yemen threatens our own national security interests.
Murphy introduced a bipartisan resolution with US Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) to end unauthorized US military involvement in Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen. Murphy introduced similar legislation last year.
In June, Murphy and colleagues sent a letter calling on the Trump administration to take action before an attack on the port of Hudaydah.
Already considered one of the world's largest humanitarian crisis, it is calculated that the Yemen conflict has:
* Killed more than 10,000 civilians and wounded 40,000 more
* Left 22.2 million Yemenis -- more than 80% of the entire population -- requiring humanitarian assistance;
* Caused the loss of more than 50% of Yemen's nighttime electricity, a key condition for maintaining hospitals, water supply systems, and communications;
* Left 8 million Yemenis on the brink of starvation;
* Produced the largest cholera outbreak in modern history.