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US Lawmakers Again Seek to End US Support for Saudis in Yemen

FILE - Saudi-backed forces, ride in their vehicle, in Hodeida, Yemen, Feb. 12, 2018.
FILE - Saudi-backed forces, ride in their vehicle, in Hodeida, Yemen, Feb. 12, 2018.

Republican and Democratic U.S. lawmakers will try again to pass a resolution ending U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, with a greater chance of success than when a similar measure passed the Senate last month.

Republican Senator Mike Lee, Democratic Senator Chris Murphy and Independent Senator Bernie Sanders, who caucuses with the Democrats, as well as Democratic Representatives Ro Khanna and Mark Pocan, planned a news conference for Wednesday to introduce the legislation.

The Senate passed a Yemen-related war powers resolution by a 56-41 vote in December, as seven Republicans joined Democrats to vote for what was considered a rebuke of Republican President Donald Trump amid anger with Saudi Arabia not just over civilian deaths in Yemen, but also the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at a Saudi consulate in Turkey. Trump had promised a veto.

It was the first time either chamber of Congress had backed a resolution to withdraw U.S. forces from a military engagement under the War Powers Act. That law, passed in 1973, limits the president's ability to commit U.S. forces to potential hostilities without congressional approval.

However, that measure never went further because the Republicans who then controlled the House of Representatives did not allow a vote in that chamber before the end of the year.

Democrats now have a House majority, but Trump's fellow Republicans have increased their edge in the Senate by two seats to hold a 53-47 margin. It would take a two-thirds majority in both houses of Congress to overcome a Trump veto.

Opponents of the resolution are reluctant to take any action to disrupt the strategic U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia, seen as an essential counterweight in the Middle East to Iran, arch-enemy of close U.S. ally Israel.

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