FILE - A man stands by a car damaged by a strike near al-Thawra Hospital in Hodeidah, Yemen, Aug. 2, 2018.
FILE - A man stands by a car damaged by a strike near al-Thawra Hospital in Hodeidah, Yemen, Aug. 2, 2018.

CAPITOL HILL - The U.S. Senate is set to resume consideration of a resolution to end American support for Saudi Arabia’s military intervention in Yemen’s civil war with a vote on the measure planned for Thursday afternoon.

The Senate will reconvene at 9:30 a.m. EST (1430 UTC) and resume consideration of the resolution. A vote is planned for 1:45 p.m. EST (1845 UTC). 

A handful of Republican senators are expected to join Democrats in ultimately passing the resolution.

The Republican-led chamber voted 60-39 Wednesday to begin debate on the measure, acting in defiance of the Trump administration, which had strenuously argued against a rupture of cooperation between Washington and longtime ally Riyadh.

FILE - Senate Judiciary Committee member Sen. Rich
FILE - Senate Judiciary Committee member Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., talks to media after a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Sept. 28, 2018.

“There needs to be an end to U.S. complicity in the ongoing bombing of civilians and the killing of children (in Yemen), in effect, war crimes,” Connecticut Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal told VOA.

“This resolution says that in this terrible, horrific war that Congress is prepared to act, and I hope very much that all of us will seize this opportunity,” Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who co-authored the measure, said.

War powers authority

Underpinning the resolution is an assertion of Congress’ constitutional duty to declare war and approve U.S. military missions. The U.S. legislature has not authorized America’s support role in Saudi Arabia’s campaign to combat Iranian-backed Yemeni rebels, a conflict that has led to widespread civilian deaths and stands as one of the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophes.

But some argued that, in this instance, the case for asserting war powers authority is weak.

“The United States is not involved in combat (in Yemen). It is not dropping ordinance. It is no longer even providing air-to-air refueling (for Saudi warplanes),” Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said. “If the Senate wants to pick a constitutional fight with the executive branch over war powers, I would advise my colleagues to pick a better case.”

Top Trump administration officials have argued that the conflict in Yemen would be even deadlier without the involvement of the United States, which has helped Saudi Arabia identify bombing targets. McConnell echoed the argument.

“This resolution would threaten other support the U.S. is providing that is designed to improve coalition targeting and to limit civilian casualties,” the majority leader said.

FILE - An image of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Kh
FILE - Mongi Dhaouadi, left, and Ahmed Bedier set up an image of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi before an event to remember Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post who was killed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

Congressional ire toward Saudi Arabia had been simmering for years as Yemen’s civil war dragged on with ever-higher civilian death tolls. Anger spiked after dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed in the kingdom’s consulate in Turkey two months ago.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks to reporters during a news briefing at the State Department in Washington, Oct. 23, 2018.
Pompeo: US Still Investigating Saudi Journalist's Killing
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that U.S. authorities are still investigating the killing of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside Riyadh's consulate in Istanbul.The top U.S. diplomat told Fox News that the United States would hold those found responsible accountable for his death, noting that the U.S. has already imposed sanctions on 17 Saudi agents it believes were responsible.Pompeo called Khashoggi's killing "a tragic incident," and "not something that America…

Speaking at the United Nations Wednesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo noted that the Trump administration has sanctioned “a large number of persons who were responsible for the heinous murder of Jamal Khashoggi,” adding, “(W)e will continue to investigate and take the facts where they lead and get to a place where we hold those responsible accountable.”

But Pompeo stressed that “America’s interests in the region are important, and our partnership with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is an important one. It has delivered American security in important ways in President Trump’s first two years in office, and we intend to continue to work with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to keep America safe.”

U.S. President Donald Trump sits for an exclusive interview with Reuters journalists in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, Dec. 11, 2018.
Trump Says Standing by Saudi Crown Prince Despite Pleas From Senate
U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that he stood by Saudi Arabia's crown prince despite a CIA assessment that he ordered the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and pleas from U.S. senators for Trump to condemn the kingdom's de facto ruler.Trump refused to comment on whether Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was complicit in the murder, but he provided perhaps his most explicit show of support for the prince since Khashoggi's death more than two months ago."He's the leader of Saudi Arabia. …

Trump has said that responsibility for Khashoggi’s death remains an open question, and he noted Riyadh’s repeated denials that the kingdom’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, played a role.

The Senate took up the Yemen resolution hours after CIA Director Gina Haspel briefed leaders of the House of Representatives on the agency’s conclusions about the Khashoggi killing. Haspel similarly briefed key senators last week, after which lawmakers of both parties said they were convinced MSB ordered the journalist’s grisly demise.

While the Senate resolution, if approved, would send a strong signal of displeasure to Saudi Arabia, it is likely to stand as a largely symbolic gesture for now. Swift House action became less likely after the chamber advanced a rule blocking a vote on any war powers resolution relating to Yemen for the remainder of the current Congress.

Senators of both parties have said they expect further consideration of Saudi Arabia-related measures when the new Congress is sworn in at the beginning of next year.