Capitol Hill lawmakers introduce bipartisan resolution to end 'unauthorized' American involvement in Yemen

Capitol Hill lawmakers introduce bipartisan resolution to end 'unauthorized' American involvement in Yemen
Villagers scour rubble for belongings scattered during the bombing of Hajar Aukaish, Yemen, in April 2015. Almigdad Mojalli/VOA (Public domain).
World

Four dozen U.S. House lawmakers on Wednesday introduced a War Powers Resolution to end "unauthorized" United States military involvement in a Saudi-led coalition's war on Yemen.

The bipartisan House effort is led by Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), and Adam Schiff (D-Calif.). Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will introduce a companion version when the Senate reconvenes, according to the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC).

The long-awaited introduction of House Joint Resolution 87 was welcomed by 104 advocacy groups, which collectively called on all federal lawmakers to co-sponsor the measure, "push for prompt floor action, and vote yes to adopt this bill in Congress."

The legislation—which DeFazio and Jayapal previewed earlier this year—directs "the removal of United States Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen that have not been authorized by Congress."

Under Article I of the U.S. Constitution, "Congress has the sole power to declare war," and it has not done so for the Saudi-led assault on Yemen, the measure highlights. Yet, "since March 2015, United States Armed Forces have been introduced into hostilities" in the besieged country.

The document defines hostilities to include sharing intelligence, providing logistical support for offensive strikes, and assigning any U.S. civilian or military personnel "to command, coordinate, participate in the movement of, or accompany the regular or irregular military forces of the Saudi-led coalition."

Though President Joe Biden announced an end to U.S. support for the coalition's "offensive operations" shortly after taking office last year, his administration has since continued to provide maintenance and logistical support as well as allow arms sales, earning condemnation from critics within and beyond Congress.

"It's critical that the Biden administration take the steps necessary to fulfill their promise to end U.S. support for the disastrous Saudi-led war in Yemen," DeFazio said Wednesday. "We should not be involved in yet another conflict in the Middle East—especially a brutal war that has created the world's largest humanitarian crisis, and contributed to the deaths of at least 377,000 civilians."

Jayapal, who chairs the CPC, also charged that "Congress cannot sit by and allow the United States' complicity in the worst humanitarian crisis in the world to continue," noting that "there are more than 16 million Yemenis living on the brink of starvation and more than two million children suffering from acute malnutrition—and the American people's tax dollars are helping finance that suffering."

As Common Dreams has reported since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, experts warn that war further jeopardizes "the fragile nutritional status of children in the Middle East and North Africa," particularly those in Egypt, Lebanon, Libya, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

"I am proud to join my colleagues in leading the introduction of this resolution today, and securing a vote to finally put a stop to American involvement in this catastrophe," Jayapal said Wednesday. "We look forward to seeing this resolution pass the House and Senate and be signed into law by the president, so he can fulfill his commitment to ending U.S. involvement in this crisis."

The CPC's statement pointed out that the new resolution is "consistent with virtually identical provisions the House has adopted for three consecutive years—most recently in an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act passed by a bipartisan majority in 2021."

Similarly emphasizing that "this bill language has enjoyed strong support in Congress previously," Cavan Kharrazian, a foreign policy campaigner at Demand Progress, said that "we strongly urge all past supporters—especially key leadership—to publicly commit to backing this Yemen War Powers Resolution once again."

Referencing advocacy groups' collective call to swiftly pass the resolution, Kharrazian declared that "our letter demonstrates widespread support for ending U.S. complicity in perpetuating one of the world's worst humanitarian disasters, and we won't rest until that support has ended once and for all."

Hassan El-Tayyab, legislative director for Middle East policy at the Quaker group Friends Committee on National Legislation, echoed another key message from the organizations' new letter and another from April, explaining that "the recent nationwide truce between Yemen's warring parties offers hope that an end to the seven-year conflict might finally be possible."

"Congress must help prevent backsliding by Saudi Arabia, which has driven so much of the violence through indiscriminate airstrikes and its crippling blockade, by passing the Yemen War Powers Resolution and blocking U.S. military support for any renewed hostilities," he asserted.

"Congressional pressure is critical right now to keep the warring parties at the bargaining table and off the battlefield," El-Tayyab added. "By reasserting its Article I war authority, Congress can help extend this temporary truce into a lasting peace settlement and bring this devastating humanitarian crisis to an end."

The resolution comes as Biden faces criticism for a potential visit to Saudi Arabia—which could include a meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman—this month during his trip to the Middle East.

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