South Dakota Senators continue to stand with the craven Donald Trump and against holding Saudi Arabia’s crown prince accountable for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. While Senator Mike Rounds says he’s “frustrated” (KELO Radio’s word) about Khashoggi’s murder and says, “Our ability to express that has not been offered yet,” Rounds and his partner Senator John Thune both voted against an opportunity to express that frustration yesterday on the Senate floor.
The Senate voted 63–37 yesterday to bring to the floor Senate Joint Resolution 54, a measure that would limit presidential war powers in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia is helping kill a whole bunch more civilians. The nays were all Republican.
Note that this vote was not to rip up the U.S.–Saudi alliance. This vote was just the motion to discharge—i.e., to allow Senators to do what Senators are supposed to do, discuss whether the United States should withdraw its troops from a country in which Congress has not declared war:
…Whereas section 8(c) of the War Powers Resolution (50 U.S.C. 1547(c)) defines the introduction of United States Armed Forces to include “the assignment of members of such armed forces to command, coordinate, participate in the movement of, or accompany the regular or irregular military forces of any foreign country or government when such military forces are engaged, or there exists an imminent threat that such forces will become engaged, in hostilities,” and activities that the United States is conducting in support of the Saudi-led coalition, including aerial refueling and targeting assistance, fall within this definition;
Whereas section 1013 of the Department of State Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 1984 and 1985 (50 U.S.C. 1546a) provides that any joint resolution or bill to require the removal of United States Armed Forces engaged in hostilities without a declaration of war or specific statutory authorization shall be considered in accordance with the expedited procedures of section 601(b) of the International Security and Arms Export Control Act of 1976 (Public Law 94–329; 90 Stat. 765); and
Whereas no specific statutory authorization for the use of United States Armed Forces with respect to the conflict between the Saudi-led coalition and the Houthis in Yemen has been enacted, and no provision of law explicitly authorizes the provision of targeting assistance or of midair refueling services to warplanes of Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates that are engaged in such conflict: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. REMOVAL OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES FROM HOSTILITIES IN THE REPUBLIC OF YEMEN THAT HAVE NOT BEEN AUTHORIZED BY CONGRESS.
Pursuant to section 1013 of the Department of State Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 1984 and 1985 (50 U.S.C. 1546a) and in accordance with the provisions of section 601(b) of the International Security Assistance and Arms Export Control Act of 1976 (Public Law 94–329; 90 Stat. 765), Congress hereby directs the President to remove United States Armed Forces from hostilities in or affecting the Republic of Yemen, except United States Armed Forces engaged in operations directed at al Qaeda or associated forces, by not later than the date that is 30 days after the date of the adoption of this joint resolution (unless the President requests and Congress authorizes a later date), and unless and until a declaration of war or specific authorization for such use of United States Armed Forces has been enacted [S.J. Res. 54, introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders, 2018.02.28].
The Senate tabled this same motion back in March on a 55–44 vote.
Now Senators Rounds and Thune must explain not only their water-carrying for a grossly immoral White House that is destroying America’s moral stature but also their unwillingness to allow an honest debate about putting American troops in harm’s way without proper Congressional authorization.