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Five Democrats Vote With Republicans to Block Vote on Saudi Arabia's War in Yemen

Five Democrats joined Republicans on Wednesday to block lawmakers in the House of Representatives from forcing a vote on any resolutions for the rest of 2018 that aimed to use the War Powers Act to end Washington’s support for Saudi Arabia in Yemen.

The 206-203 vote was largely divided along party lines, but 18 Republicans voted against the measure. Democratic Representatives Jim Costa of California, Al Lawson of Florida, Collin Peterson of North Dakota, Dutch Rupperberger of Maryland, and David Scott of Georgia  voted in favor. The measure was tied to a farm bill, which had a provision tucked inside that said “privilege” did not apply “during the remainder of the One Hundred Fifteenth Congress to a concurrent resolution introduced pursuant to… the War Powers Resolution (50 U.S.C. 1544) with respect to Yemen,” The Hill reported.

GettyImages-512233878 A Yemeni boy stands in the rubble of buildings destroyed in an airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition on February 25, 2016, in the capital Sanaa. Five Democrats joined Republicans on Wednesday to block lawmakers in the U.S. House from forcing a vote on any resolutions for the rest of 2018 that aimed to use the War Powers Act to end Washington’s support for Saudi Arabia in Yemen. MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/Getty Images

“Privilege” allows legislators to force votes, meaning the new measure essentially ended any hopes of the House voting on the war in Yemen for the remainder of the year.

Democratic Representative Ro Khanna of California had recently reintroduced a war powers resolution for Yemen. The congressman blasted Speaker of the House Paul Ryan following the vote.

“Once again the GOP is using parliamentary tricks to block our effort to end the devastating war in Yemen. Every 10 minutes a Yemeni child is dying,” Khanna tweeted following the vote. Tagging Ryan, Khanna accused the speaker of  “using his remaining power to protect the Saudis who are aligned w/ al-Qaeda and murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi.”

Before the vote, GOP Representative Thomas Massie of Kentucky slammed Ryan in an interview with Breitbart News. “If you’re putting America first, why would you jeopardize passage of the farm bill by sneaking in the war in Yemen through the farm bill?” Massie asked.  “We shouldn’t be spending our blood and treasure in the Middle East, and furthermore on another level, we shouldn’t be jeopardizing the passage of domestic policy and domestic spending with a foreign policy/ war issue.”

The move came as the Senate looks likely to pass a resolution citing the War Powers Act to withdraw any U.S. troops in or “affecting” Yemen within one month, unless they are specifically battling against al Qaeda, NPR reported. Supporters and opponents in the upper house of Congress believe the measure is due to pass.

Bipartisan opposition to the Saudi-led war in Yemen has grown following the grisly murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in early October. The Saudi citizen, who was a U.S. resident and a contributor to The Washington Post, was killed and dismembered after entering the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul by a team of Saudi agents that the CIA linked to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The Trump administration has continued to support the Saudi leaders despite the CIA findings, with the president calling the kingdom a “great ally.” However, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has repeatedly slammed the crown prince, while GOP Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee called Trump’s support “un-American.”

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