The Senate blocked a war powers resolution Tuesday that called for an end to US involvement in the Yemen conflict.
By a vote of 55 to 44, senators voted against a procedural motion that would have advanced the measure.
Three senators – Mike Lee, a Utah Republican, Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent, and Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat – pushed for the vote, complaining the US military was assisting Saudi Arabia and other countries in their ongoing conflict with Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen without congressional authorization.
They argued that assistance – including logistical support and mid-air refueling – constituted involvement in “hostilities” and was contributing to a massive humanitarian crisis in Yemen.
“The Founding Fathers gave the power to authorize military conflicts to Congress, the branch most accountable to the people,” Sanders said in a floor speech. “Not to the President but to Congress.”
The Trump administration and GOP leaders opposed the move, arguing the limited military support did not require congressional signoff. They also said US involvement in Yemen was needed to counter the threat from Iran.
“Withdrawing US support would increase, not decrease, the risk of civilian casualties. And it would signal that we are not serious about containing Iran or its proxies,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said before the vote.
Defense Secretary James Mattis traveled to the Capitol to lobby senators to block the resolution.