Trump Bypasses Congress to Sell Weapons to Saudi Arabia

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump join King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia, and the President of Egypt, Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, Sunday, May 21, 2017, to participate in the inaugural opening of the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

On Friday, the Trump administration bypassed Congress to fast track billions of dollars in arms sales to Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern allies.

This move drew heavy criticism from both sides of the political aisle.

The Trump administration invoked an obscure provision of arms control law to declare a national security emergency that would allow this sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Jordan to go through without Congress’s approval.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated in a letter to Senator James Risch, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, “I have determined that an emergency exists which requires the proposed sale in the national security interest of the United States, and, thus, waives the congressional review requirements.”

According to congressional aid and other reports, the arms packages sent to the Middle East are worth roughly $8 billion and consist of precision-guided bombs and other equipment to countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE. These two countries are allies of the U.S., who support current policy on Iran and support the Yemeni government’s efforts to put down the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.

This conflict has drawn significant criticism from both sides of the aisle and even resulted in the successful passage of a resolution that would have ended the Yemeni conflict. In the end, the Trump administration ended up vetoing this resolution.