Print

CPC Leads Renewed Congressional Effort to End Illegal U.S.-Saudi War in Yemen

Washington, D.C. – Congressional Progressive Caucus Vice Chair Ro Khanna (CA-17), CPC Member and ranking Democrat on House Armed Services Committee Adam Smith (WA-09), as well as CPC Co-Chairs Mark Pocan (WI-02) and Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-03) led a bipartisan group of two dozen lawmakers today in introducing H.Con.Res. 138, a privileged resolution to end unauthorized U.S. military participation in Saudi Arabia's war against Yemen’s Houthi rebels. The three-year-old U.S.-Saudi military campaign has triggered the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, leading the United Nations to warn of imminent, widespread famine.

The lawmakers are invoking the War Powers Resolution of 1973 to force a floor vote to terminate U.S. military activities that constitute unauthorized hostilities such as midair U.S. refueling for Saudi-led coalition warplanes conducting airstrikes in Yemen as well as targeting assistance for the bombings. The congressional effort comes just two weeks after the Trump Administration defied legal checks on U.S. participation in the Saudi war by falsely certifying to Congress that the Saudi-led coalition was making “every effort” to reduce civilian casualties resulting from its bombing campaign in order to continue U.S. midair refueling for Saudi-led airstrikes. Civilian deaths have skyrocketed in recent weeks.

The Saudi regime has paired a deadly air campaign, which in August killed 40 Yemeni children with a U.S.-supplied bomb, with a blockade on Yemen’s major port, preventing adequate food, medicine and fuel from reaching 75 percent of Yemen’s population in need of humanitarian assistance. As a result of fresh military escalations, aid group Save the Children warned that an additional 1 million Yemeni children are threatened by starvation.

The congressional effort follows a similar measure introduced by Reps. Khanna, Pocan, Massie, and Jones in September 2017, H.Con.Res. 81, which obtained over 50 cosponsors in support of ending the U.S.-Saudi war. In March 2018, CPC founding member Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) advanced a companion resolution with Senators Lee (R-UT) and Murphy (D-CT), which secured 44 votes in support.

Reps. Khanna, Smith and the CPC Co-Chairs were joined today by Ranking Members Jim McGovern (MA-02) Eliot Engel (NY-16), and Nita Lowey (NY-17), Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD-05), and Reps. Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02), Thomas Massie (KY-04), Michael Capuano (MA-07), Yvette Clarke (NY-09), Ted Lieu (CA-33), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Beto O’Rourke (TX-16), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Joe Kennedy (Ma-04), Joe Courtney (CT-2), Gwen Moore (WI-04), Walter Jones (NC-03), Debbie Dingell (MI-12), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Peter DeFazio (OR-04), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Ted Deutch (FL-22), and Peter Welch (VT-AL). 

“When I introduced a similar War Powers resolution last year, I, along with Reps. Pocan, Massie, and Jones, were among a small group of members of Congress calling for an end to the U.S. involvement in the Saudi War in Yemen. One year later, the bloodshed continues with widespread destruction and disease contributing to the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. U.S.-fueled planes continue to drop U.S.-made bombs on innocent victims,” said Rep. Khanna. “This time around, our coalition to end the war has expanded and the call for withdrawing U.S. involvement is louder. This policy started by a few original cosponsors of our War Powers resolution is now supported by Whip Hoyer, the ranking members of the House Armed Services, Foreign Affairs, and Rules Committees, and it is now a mainstream position within the Democratic Party. In fact, 44 U.S. Senators, including the Democratic Leader and Whip, voted in favor of a similar War Powers resolution. I am confident the House Republican leadership will allow this resolution to come to a vote and that members of the House will hear from their constituents in support of our position against this unauthorized war contributing to Yemen’s humanitarian catastrophe.”

“Yemen is facing the worst humanitarian crisis in the world right now that has been significantly exacerbated by the civil war. The impact of the Saudi-coalition’s actions on the dire humanitarian crisis is undeniable,” said Rep. Adam Smith. “The U.S. should be aggressively pushing a peaceful solution to end this civil war instead of supporting the Saudi-led coalition military campaign that has only destabilized the crisis further. We must make it clear that U.S. should not be choosing sides in this civil war while the people of Yemen continue to suffer.”

“The world’s worst humanitarian crisis has been triggered by our secretive, illegal war in Yemen waged alongside the Saudi regime. I am proud to join my progressive and conservative colleagues in co-leading this vital effort to force the House of Representatives to finally debate and vote on removing U.S. forces from this senseless conflict,” said Rep. Pocan. “As the Saudis use famine as a weapon of war, starving millions of innocent Yemenis to near death, the United States fuels, coordinates and provides bombs for Saudi airstrikes, and secretly deploys the military to participate in on-the-ground operations with Saudi troops. We must work across the aisle to rein in our unauthorized involvement in this tragedy by reasserting our constitutional duty over war and peace.”

“Our country has no business aiding and abetting the perpetrators of the humanitarian crisis in Yemen,” said Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva. “The secretive and illegal U.S. involvement in a war that has resulted in thousands of deaths, mass starvation, and rampant destruction deserves to be exposed and condemned. It’s time for Congress to stop behaving as a subservient peon of the White House, reassert itself as a co-equal branch of government, and end the U.S. military involvement in Yemen, which is only exacerbating an unstable situation.” 

“The actions of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen are fast-approaching the level of crimes against humanity,” said Rep. McGovern. “The United States must send a clear and unambiguous message to Saudi Arabia – their actions are unacceptable to the international community and will not be tolerated by the United States. As millions of Yemenis face senseless violence, starvation, and disease, America cannot remain a complicit and passive partner in carrying out one of the world’s greatest humanitarian crises.”

“Congress never authorized military action in Yemen as our Constitution requires, yet we continue to fund and assist Saudi Arabia in this tragic conflict,” said Rep. Massie. “It’s long past time Congress held a debate and vote as to whether U.S. soldiers and personnel should be involved in this war.”

“The United States is complicit in the humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen. The Saudi-Emirati coalition has unleashed unthinkable horrors on the civilians of Yemen, and it is shameful that the U.S. is participating in this war,” said Rep. Barbara Lee. “This war was never voted on by Congress. In the face of unspeakable carnage and suffering, the United States should be building a pathway to peace – not supporting a coalition that bombs civilians. Congress needs to make its voice heard and demand an end to U.S. participation in this inhumane war.”

“Congress has a constitutional responsibility to authorize and provide oversight of military conflicts.  We have done neither for the conflict in Yemen – where our military has supported airstrikes that have killed scores of innocent civilians, including children,” said Rep. Lieu. “Enforcing the role of Congress in overseeing U.S. involvement in conflicts abroad guarantees that this issue will finally receive the critical debate it deserves.”

“For too long, the United States has turned a blind eye to the horrifying atrocities committed against Yemeni civilians by the Saudi-U.S. coalition, killing, maiming and starving innocent civilians since the start of this genocidal war in 2015,” said Rep. Gabbard. “Even after Saudi Arabia dropped a bomb on a school bus that killed 40 children last month, the Trump Administration reaffirmed its support for this illegal war, which Congress has never approved. The U.S. must end its support for Saudi Arabia now.”

“As Democrats search for a foreign-policy vision that inspires voters and reflects a clean break with the endless militarism of the Washington establishment, we applaud the Congressional Progressive Caucus and its leaders, such as Reps. Khanna, Smith, and Pocan, for their moral clarity as they chart a course toward stronger constitutional governance and less human suffering,” said David Segal, Executive Director, Demand Progress.  “This resolution promises to put a decisive end to the famine, disease, and bombings that threaten tens of millions in Yemen by relying on a simple principle: war must first be debated and voted on by the people’s elected representatives. Demand Progress is proud to support this measure to employ sunlight and democracy to rein in the secretive and devastating military campaigns that the Executive Branch has pursued under both parties.”

"For far too long, the United States has fueled the suffering in Yemen. Our military's continued support for the Saudi and UAE led coalition, even in the face of repeated war crimes, must immediately end. We are grateful that a bipartisan group of members of Congress, led by Rep. Ro Khanna, HASC Ranking Member Adam Smith, and CPC Co-Chair Mark Pocan, are leading the charge to put an end to our unauthorized role in this deadly war,” said Stephen Miles, Director at Win Without War. “We call on all members of Congress to join them and help finally end the world's largest man-made humanitarian crisis."

"As a result of American support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, millions are facing starvation and the country is battling what may be the worst cholera epidemic in history,” said Kaili Lambe, Organizing Director at CREDO Action. “American-made bombs have killed civilians – many of them children, all without explicit authorization from Congress. It is crucial that Congress assert its responsibility and vote to end U.S. support for the war in Yemen by supporting the legislation sponsored by Reps. Khanna, Pocan and Smith.”

"This resolution should be a no-brainer for Congress. What more do they need to finally end this tragedy? If they're not persuaded by the fact that the U.S. is engaging in unauthorized warfare, the growing civilian body count should demand their attention,” said Elizabeth Beavers, Associate Policy Director at for Indivisible. “This is the world's largest humanitarian crisis, and blood is on the hands of those who do not act to stop it."

“This House resolution offers a glimmer of hope to the suffering people of Yemen because if the U.S. withdraws its support for the Saudi-led bombing, a negotiated settlement is sure to follow,” said Medea Benjamin, co-director at CODEPINK. “Let's make sure the August bombing of a busload of children marks a turning point in US policy.”

“As Quakers, we support legislation to end U.S. involvement in the Saudi-led war that is slaughtering men, women, and children in Yemen. By refueling Saudi and Emirati jets as they bomb civilians, the U.S. is enabling the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. We applaud Representatives Ro Khanna, Adam Smith, and Mark Pocan for their bipartisan initiative to reassert Congress’ constitutional authority to end this illegal war,” said Diane Randall, Executive Secretary, Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), a Quaker lobby in the public interest. “Quakers and friends across the country are mobilizing to urge their members of Congress to support this initiative and end this illegal war.”

"Just Foreign Policy strongly welcomes the bipartisan initiative of Reps. Khanna, Smith, Pocan, Massie and others to invoke the War Powers Resolution to force a floor vote to end unconstitutional U.S. participation in the Saudi regime's biblically-catastrophic war and blockade in Yemen,” said Robert Naiman, Policy Director at Just Foreign Policy. “The Saudi regime is deliberately causing famine in Yemen and deliberately helping strengthen Al Qaeda in Yemen. These barbaric Saudi policies that are hurting Americans will stop when the United States government stops illegally enabling them. We expect the long-overdue House invocation of its war powers to end this abomination to be a decisive step towards asserting Constitutional war powers to end other unconstitutional wars and towards preventing unconstitutional wars in the future."

"The war in Yemen being waged by the Saudi and Emirati-led coalition is brutal, bloody, and a humanitarian disaster of immense proportions--and the coalition is losing. America is supporting that coalition with military assets such as refueling tankers and precision-guided munitions. Our support is unconstitutional because Congress hasn't approved it,” said Lawrence Wilkerson, Professor of Government at the College of William and Mary and former chief of staff to secretary of state Colin Powell. “The solution is simple: invoke the Constitution and the War Powers Act and give the President a choice--stop the support or seek Congressional approval."

“Rarely does Congress have an opportunity make a difference in the lives of millions of people. This legislation is one such chance, and the time to act is now,” said William D. Hartung, Director, Arms and Security Project, Center for International Policy. “Representatives Khanna, Pocan, Smith and their colleagues are to be commended for taking urgent and necessary action to end the suffering in Yemen.”

“In another effort by Congress to take back its constitutional mandate to declare war, Peace Action applauds Reps. Adam Smith, Ro Khanna, Barbara Lee, Jim McGovern, Mark Pocan, Thomas Massie and others for invoking the War Powers Resolution to stop the illegal involvement of the U.S. in the Yemen war,” said Paul Kawika Martin the Senior Director, Policy and Political Affairs for Peace Action, the largest grassroots peace organization in the United States. “Peace Action helped pass the War Powers Resolution in 1973 over the veto of President Nixon so Congress can stop the White House and the Pentagon from engaging in costly wars that make Americans less safe.”

“The Committee for Responsible Foreign Policy commends Reps. Ro Khanna, Adam Smith, and Mark Pocan for their leadership on this issue, and for their commitment to the Constitution's Article I Congressional War Powers,” said George O'Neill, Jr., founder of the Committee for Responsible Foreign Policy. “The decision to go to war is one of the most important decisions a nation can make, and it is appropriate for Congress to vote on the United States' partnership with Saudi Arabia in the war in Yemen, which has created the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.”

Read the text of H.Con.Res. 138 here.

Additional resources:

Reps. Khanna, Pocan, Jones – “Stop the Unconstitutional War in Yemen,” New York Times, Oct. 10, 2017

Rep. Khanna – “Congress Must Act to Stop US Involvement in the Yemen War,” The Nation, June 18, 2018