President Donald Trump wants so desperately to sell bombs to Saudi Arabia that he’s willing to kill Congressional oversight of arms sales to do it. Trump is so furious that both parties are holding up his arms sales, that he’s considering making things even worse.
“If adopted, the change would effectively end congressional oversight over the sale of American weapons and offers of training to countries engaged in wars with high civilian casualties or human rights abuses, and would certainly widen rifts between the administration and Congress,” said the New York Times in a Thursday report.
In 2002, Congress added to the Arms Export Control Act of 1976 to ensure that any sale or export of US weapons or bombs to foreign countries would be closely scrutinized by congressional oversight. Now the president is trying to find a way to stop that.
There continues to be frustration by officials over the murder and dismemberment of a Washington Post reporter by men with ties to the Crown Prince.
In 2019 the Senate issued a rare rebuke of Trump’s support of the Saudi’s actions in the bloody war in Yemen, where thousands of civilians have been killed.
“In May of 2019, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared an emergency to bypass Congress and fast-track more than $8 billion in bombs and other weapons to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan — citing Iranian aggression in Yemen as the reason,” the Times report said.
The Senate invoked the 1973 War Powers Resolution to tell the president to stop military engagements in the war including arming the Saudis. They also passed a measure saying the Senate “believes Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is responsible for the murder” of journalist and U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi.
“If the administration scraps the informal notification process, it would tell Congress of proposed arms sales only through the formal process,” said the Times. “That framework allows members of Congress to introduce and vote on resolutions to disapprove of certain sales. But to actually block a deal, a measure would require support from two-thirds of both chambers to overcome an inevitable presidential veto.”
The whole scandal comes at a different time for the State Department, because Secretary Mike Pompeo just fired Inspector General Steve A. Linick, who was investigating his use of the State Department to host his personal social engagements and handle his wife’s personal affairs.
“In terms of the policy, it has two contradictory effects,” said former State Department official Andrew Miller. “On one hand, it could circumvent congressional oversight and lead to more reckless sales. On the other hand, it deprives the administration of an early opportunity to adjust sales to reflect congressional concerns, which could actually lead to delays.”
Read the full report from the New York Times.