On Friday, August 9, peace activists from Rhode Island and around New England plan to rally at noon outside of Senator Jack Reed‘s Providence office, 1 Exchange Terrace, to call on the Senator to use his power as ranking minority member on the Senate Armed Services Committee to make sure that three resolutions already in the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act are included in the Senate version during the reconciliation process to end the United States‘ participation in the Saudi coalition‘s genocidal war on Yemen.
Similar rallies will take place in New York and Albany outside of Senator Chuck Schumer‘s office, part of a nationwide effort to demand that Democratic leadership step up and ensure that the defense authorization bill ends United States participation in the war on Yemen. This effort is taking place in consultation with Just Foreign Polcy and Actioncorps. Demand Progress, Win Without War and Friends Committee on National Legislation, among others, are involved in similar, overlapping efforts.
August 9 is the the one year anniversary of the Saudi coalition’s bombing of a school bus full of Yemeni children. An American made bomb killed 40 boys, aged 6 to 11 as well as 11 adults. 79 others were wounded, including 56 children. Despite numerous actions over the last year by Congress to curtail United States participation in the war on Yemen, Trump’s vetoes have limited Congressional efforts to stop the slaughter. The amendments that the House has already put in their version of the defense bill will override Trump’s veto of legislation previously passed this year by bi-partisan majorities of both Houses of Congress to end United States participation in the war on Yemen both logistically and in terms of supplying weapons and spare parts to the Saudi coalition.
The world’s largest humanitarian crisis continues due to Trump’s vetoes
This must be done because the steps taken by Congress so far – preventing midair refueling of Saudi planes by the United States, for example – has not stopped the horrible consequences of the war on the Yemeni people. United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian affairs Mark Lowcock reported in July that “…conditions for most people in Yemen are getting worse, not better. The fighting rages on,” with Saudi coalition bombings continuing in cities across Yemen. Since June, 120,000 more people have fled their homes, bringing total displacement this year to more than 300,000, while 500,000 cases of cholera were reported this year. Eighty percent of the population – more than 24 million people – need assistance and protection, while 10 million more rely on food aid to survive. “The death toll will surely grow,” Lowcock concluded.
The three resolutions we encourage Senator Reed to make sure are added to the Senate’s reconciled Defense Authorization bill are:
- The Smith-Khanna-Schiff-Jayapal Amendment 26 terminates all unauthorized United States participation in Saudi/Emirati-led hostilities against Yemen’s Houthis, including United States logistical support and intelligence sharing considered indispensable for coalition airstrikes. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) veteran Bruce Riedel, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, has argued that the coalition’s aerial bombing campaign in Yemen “will be grounded” if the United States “halts the flow of logistics.” Passed by a bipartisan 240-vote margin in the House, the amendment ratifies the intent of both chambers of Congress that passed a similar directive, S.J. Res. 7, by a 54 vote majority, directing the president to end United States participation in the war earlier this year, which Trump vetoed.
- Amendment 438, introduced by Representatives Tomasz Malinowski (Democrat, New Jersey), David Cicilline (Democrat, Rhode Island), Ted Lieu (Democrat, California), Ro Khanna (Democrat, California), Ilhan Omar (Democrat, Minnesota), David Trone (Democrat, Maryland), Eliot Engel (Democrat, New York), and Adam Smith (Democrat, Washington), imposes a one-year ban on air-to-ground munitions sales, transfers, and licenses to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, for which 236 House members voted in support. In addition to preventing additional United States-sold weapons from being used to cause civilian harm in Yemen, it could also block the “emergency” sale of new air-to-ground munitions from being delivered to coalition countries that bipartisan majorities voted to block during consideration of S.J. Res. 36, 37, and 38 this summer. Trump vetoed these resolutions.
- The Lieu-Gabbard Amendment 23 prohibits the United States Special Defense Acquisition Fund from providing assistance – such as spare parts and munitions transfers – to Saudi Arabia if this assistance could be used in the ongoing war in Yemen, and passed the House with 239 votes in support. This amendment both complements and strengthens the enforcement of both the prohibition on United States participation in Saudi and Emirati hostilities in Yemen and a one-year suspension of bomb transfers.
How these amendments can end the war and do even more in terms of the constitutional balance
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Adding these three amendments to the Defense Authorization bill can do even more than stopping the war and ending the participation of the United States in what is effectively a genocidal war against a civilian population. It would reaffirm Congressial power of the purse, oversight authority, and the right to make all necessary and proper laws to exercise its will, particularly with regard to what James Madison considered the “fundamental doctrine of the Constitution, that the power to declare war, including the power of judging the causes of war, is fully and exclusively vested in the legislature.”
In the Senate report that accompanied the War Powers Act of 1973, lawmakers noted that Congress “can take no more useful and needed step toward the restoration of constitutional balance than to enact legislation to confirm and codify the intent of the framers of the Constitution with respect to the war power,” which an National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) with the aforementioned provisions would accomplish.
Senator Reed, along with the Democratic leadership has stood up for the people of Yemen over the last year, only to have much of his work vetoed by Trump. He must finish the fight and make sure these amendments are in the bill that comes out of the Senate.
JOIN US AT NOON ON FRIDAY, AUGUST 9th OUTSIDE SENATOR REED’S PROVIDENCE OFFICE, 1 EXCHANGE TERRACE IN PROVIDENCE
Rhode lslanders, Call Reed @ (401) 528-5200, ask that he fight for amendments to the NDAA that would (1) cut off further United States logistical assistance to the genocidal Saudi/UAE war in Yemen and (2) prohibit new arms to the Saudis.