1. Press Release
  2. Middle East & Iran, U.S. Wars & Militarism

Senate Rebuffs President’s “End-Run” on Saudi Arms Sales

By Timothy McHugh, June 20, 2019


Washington, DC - The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) hails today’s Senate vote to reject the $8 billion arms sale package to Saudi Arabia and other countries that the Trump administration sought to push through without congressional oversight and approval. By a vote of 53 to 45, the Senate disapproved the sale of bombs of the type that have been used in Saudi attacks against Yemeni civilians.

Contact: Tim McHugh, Friends Committee on National Legislation, media@fcnl.org; 202-903-2515

“Today’s vote sends a clear message to the president and the world that protecting human rights takes precedence over selling weapons,” said FCNL Executive Secretary Diane Randall. “Saudi Arabia’s brutal conduct of the war in Yemen has led to the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, killing and maiming innocent civilians, destroying schools and hospitals, and driving the population into severe poverty and malnutrition. As Quakers, we urge the United States to end its complicity in this horrific crisis by terminating all military support of the Saudi-led coalition.”

Among the weapons sales blocked by the Senate were the transfers of Paveway precision-guided bombs to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), as well as a licensing agreement and technical data that would allow the Saudis to produce these weapons themselves. “The president knew that Congress opposed these sales, so instead of addressing their legitimate concerns, he tried to circumvent them entirely,” explained FCNL’s Senior Strategist and Legislative Director for Foreign Policy Diana Ohlbaum. “We hope the House will join the Senate in rejecting this abuse of power and halt the flow of U.S. arms to Saudi Arabia and the UAE that is responsible for so much death and destruction.”

By declaring an “emergency” with Iran – without documenting any new threats – the President used a rarely-cited loophole to avoid the normal 30-day congressional review process. In response, the Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Robert Menendez (NJ), introduced 22 separate resolutions of disapproval, one for each proposed arms sale, with bipartisan support. The Senate adopted two of the resolutions individually, by votes of 53-45, before passing the remaining resolutions en bloc, 51-45.

The resolutions passed by the Senate now head to the House of Representatives for approval.

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Timothy McHugh

  • Director of Media Relations

Tim leads organizational efforts to communicate about issues, victories, priorities, and updates through all available news channels – specifically the major media outlets. He is responsible for providing FCNL staff with opportunities to convey our message – in print and through the airways – to the public and throughout the country. He keeps FCNL issues and staff on the collective radars of reporters and journalists nationwide. Lastly, he runs FCNL several media-focused social media channels.