'This is big': House passes amendment to cut US complicity in Saudi bombing of Yemen

'This is big': House passes amendment to cut US complicity in Saudi bombing of Yemen
Representative Ro Khanna (D-CA), a member of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, delivers remarks during the briefing "Women's Human Rights Defenders in Saudi Arabia," on May 23, 2019. // Photo credit: April Brady/Project on Middle East Democracy https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
Human Rights

Anti-war groups on Thursday welcomed the U.S. House's passage of an amendment to the annual defense bill that would cut off the flow to Saudi Arabia of U.S. logistical support and weapons "that are bombing civilians" in Yemen.

"This is BIG," tweeted the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) following the afternoon 219-207 vote, which fell largely along party lines, with just 11 Democrats voting "no."

At issue was Rep. Ro Khanna's (D-Calif.) amendment to H.R. 4350, the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). It's one of dozens of amendments to the NDAA under consideration by the House this week.

According to Khanna, the vote "sent a clear message to the Saudis: end the bombing in Yemen and lift the blockade."

Speaking on the House floor Wednesday, he made a succinct case for why the measure is so needed.

Khanna said his amendment "would end all U.S. logistical support and transfer of spare parts for Saudi warplanes that are bombing Yemen, that are bombing schools, that are killing children, that are bombing civilians in the largest humanitarian crisis around the world."

"We're not going to use taxpayer dollars to give them equipment for their planes to bomb Yemeni kids," Khanna added, urging his colleagues to help "finally begin to end this war."

The California Democrat's effort is being buoyed by anti-war groups like FCNL, which joined a coalition of progressive groups this week in a statement declaring that "by suspending the sale of arms and ending U.S. participation in the Saudi coalition's war and blockade, Congress can prevent a humanitarian catastrophe from spiraling further out of control as it reasserts its constitutional authority on matters of war and peace."

Another signatory to the letter, CodePink, argued Thursday that while the House vote was welcome, the NDAA still needs broader changes.

"If this amendment makes it through the NDAA conference with the Senate," the group wrote in a Twitter thread, "it would end logistical and spare parts support to the Saudi-led war on Yemen that's left hundreds of thousands of Yemenis on the brink of death and millions more on the brink of starvation."

"While we support Khanna's amendment, we do not support the NDAA (as a whole) without a significant cut to the Pentagon budget," the group added. "Regardless, the amendment remains a strong message to the Biden administration that Yemen can't wait."

The vote came on the heels of the United Nations food agency highlighting the ongoing humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen, where "people are suffering immensely."

"We're literally looking at 16 million people marching toward starvation," World Food Program executive director David Beasley said Wednesday at a high-level meeting on the humanitarian situation in Yemen.

"We need this war to end, number 1, and if donors are getting fatigued, well, end the war," he added. "World leaders need to put the pressure on all parties involved to end his conflict because the people Yemen have suffered enough."

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