The Senate voted 71 to 27 against the resolution to block the billion-dollar sale of tanks, guns and other military equipment.
The resolution was put forward by Senators Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) and Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut), who argued that Saudi Arabia’s role in the conflict in Yemen and its human rights record make it a problematic recipient of American arms.
The Pentagon announced last month that the State Department had approved the potential sale of more than 130 Abrams battle tanks, 20 armored recovery vehicles and other equipment to Saudi Arabia.
In addition to human rights concerns, Paul and Murphy argued the sale might fuel an ongoing regional arms race.
Murphy told Politico prior to the debate that his aim wasn’t necessarily to pass the resolution, but rather to press Saudi Arabia on its role in the civil war in Yemen.
During the debate, Paul said that US involvement in Iraq and Syria was illegal as there was no congressional authorization for it, and that this debate was an indirect vote on the war in Yemen.
“It’s an indirect vote because they won’t allow a direct vote”, he said, adding that Americans deserved to have a debate on “when and where we should be at war.”
The opposition went beyond just a weapons sale and into whether the US should be complicit in a Saudi-led war on Yemen.
“People say ‘no big deal we are not really at war in Yemen’ – well yes we are, we are refueling Saudi bombers that are dropping bombs in Yemen,” Paul said.
“We’ve given Saudi Arabia a hundred billion dollars worth of weapons… So we do need to ask, is Saudi Arabia a good ally?”
We must send a message right now, today to Saudi Arabia: Stop putting Christians to death, stop beheading protesters, stop the abuse.
Murphy argued that all of the …