In an op-ed for Rare in September, Republican Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan asked, “Why are we giving the Saudis $1 billion in weapons with zero debate?”
At that time Amash was condemning and explaining his opposition to President Obama’s arms deal with Saudi Arabia. Now President Donald Trump has a new $110 billion deal (or $350 billion over ten years) that dwarf’s Obama’s many times over.
On Thurday, Amash and Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wisc.) led a bipartisan group of House members including Republicans Walter Jones (NC) and Thomas Massie (Ky.) and Democrats Barbara Lee (Cali.) and Jim McGovern (Mass.) to introduce a joint resolution of disapproval of President Trump’s planned arms sale to Saudi Arabia.
“Saudi Arabia has one of the worst human rights records and has supported many of the extremists terrorizing the people of the Middle East and the world,” said Amash in a press release. “These arms sales extend a reckless policy from the Obama administration and prior administrations, and they come at a time when the Saudi government is escalating a gruesome war in Yemen.”
Primary co-sponsor Pocan echoed Amash, “President Trump’s proposed $110-billion weapons sale sends the wrong message to Saudi Arabia. In addition to regularly dropping U.S. bombs on Yemeni civilians, Saudi Arabia appears to have every intention of using the U.S. weapons from this sale to enforce a blockade on Yemen that prevents food and medicine from reaching millions of people on the brink of starvation.”
“For months, my colleagues and I have been demanding answers to the most basic questions on the U.S. role in the disastrous Saudi-led war in Yemen and have been met with deafening silence from the White House,” Pocan added.
Amash has often been the Republican least afraid to challenge Trump and was quick to respond to conservative critics on social media upset that the libertarian-leaning Republican was yet again going against the president.
Rare’s Matt Purple has detailed some of the Saudi-related horrors that give Amash and others pause:
But how many bodies can their blind eye avoid? United States-supplied weapons were used during a Saudi strike on a marketplace in Mastaba, Yemen that slaughtered 97 civilians, including 25 children. Photographs also showed remnants of American bombs in the wreckage of a Yemeni funeral—that Saudi attack killed 140. In addition to massacring the innocent and bolstering terrorism in Yemen, the Saudis have used their military might to arm jihadist groups in Syria, crush democratic protests in Bahrain, and suppress impoverished Shias within their own borders.
The Senate co-legislation to potentially force a vote on the Saudi arms deal was also introduced on Thursday by Sen. Rand Paul and Democratic Senators Chris Murphy and Al Franken.
Disclosure: I co-authored the 2011 book The Tea Party Goes to Washington with Sen. Rand Paul.