Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Lindsey Graham (Republican-South Carolina) during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 1, 2019, on the Mueller Report.
In a letter last month to congressional lawmakers, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that he "determined that an emergency exists, which requires the immediate sale of the defense articles and defense services" to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Jordan "in order to deter further the malign influence of the Government of Iran throughout the Middle East region", according to a copy obtained by CNN. While the resolutions are also likely to be approved by the House, supporters of the measures are well short of having enough support to overcome Trump's threatened veto.
The White House veto threat argued Saudi Arabia serves as a bulwark against Iran and its proxies in the region, but also that halting the sales would trigger "unintended consequences" for allies beyond the Mideast.
One of the votes was a rebuke of the Trump administration's posture towards Saudi Arabia especially in the aftermath of the death of writer and Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi, allegedly ordered by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.
The measures, which passed with votes of 53-45 and 51-45, now go to the Democratic-led House of Representatives, where they are expected to win approval and then head to the president's desk. Bob Menendez initially filed 22 resolutions of disapproval against the sales. Trump said, "Iran made a very big mistake", but created space for Tehran to apologize by suggesting the downing of the drone may have been accidental.
"The decision of the court today does not mean that license to export arms to Saudi Arabia must immediately be suspended", said Etherton, the British judge.
Trump's administration took the extraordinary step of bypassing Congress to approve the sales in May, declaring Iran to be a "fundamental threat" to regional stability.
The UK has licensed at least £4.7bn worth of arms to Saudi Arabia since the start of the civil war in Yemen in March 2015, with most of the recorded sales taking place before 2018.
The British government broke the law by allowing arms exports to Saudi Arabia that might have been used in the conflict in Yemen, a British court ruled on Thursday.
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Opposition in Congress to closer U.S. Saudi ties escalated after the killing past year of U.S. -based columnist Jamal Khashoggi by agents of the kingdom.
The Saudis have recently faced a number of attacks from Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. Risch added that blocking the sale would also "encourage miscalculation on the part of Iranians which will be disastrous".
"These are bombs that we know have killed thousands of civilians in Yemen, patients in hospitals, children on school buses", Menendez said.
The war has left tens of thousands of people including civilians and children dead, and has put 10 million people at risk of starvation and the world's worst cholera epidemic.
"We continue to support the UK government in providing equipment, support and training under government-to-government agreements between the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia", BAE Systems said in a statement.
Some of the president's allies in Congress are outraged by Saudi Arabia's behavior.
'You've lost me, and that's too bad, ' he said.
"My relationship with Saudi Arabia is forever changed, ' he said, accusing the Kingdom of taking their relationship with the United States 'for granted" and caring more about 'maintaining power at all costs, ' than their alliance.