The top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee announced he would vote against a US-Saudi weapons deal.
Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., said he would vote to block the sale of $510 million-worth of smart bombs, a signal Democrats could oppose the deal en masse, according to Defense News.
According to Cardin, the Trump administration “has not yet articulated a strategy to end the war [in Yemen] through political means.” “Instead, this administration’s approach appears to be more weapons sales,” Cardin said in a statement. He added there was “absent leadership to push all parties toward a political process for a negotiated settlement.”
“The administration’s decision to proceed with the sale of precision-guided munitions…sends the absolutely wrong signal to our partners and our adversaries,” the Senator continued.
Cardin’s statement comes after the escalating tensions in the Middle East between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, as well as attacks in Tehran which Iran accused the Kingdom of orchestrating with US help.
In late May, Senators Rand Paul, R-Ky., Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and Al Franken, D-Minn., introduced a measure to oppose the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen’s two-year-old civil war, and the US’ military support for it without congressional approval.
The vote against the arms sale could come as soon as Thursday, the same day as former FBI Director’s James Comey’s testimony before the Senate over President Donald Trump’s interactions with him over Russian meddling in the elections.
The petition could force a full debate and vote on the weapons sale, which had been previously blocked due to concerns over Saudi-caused civilian casualties. Aside from exacerbating the humanitarian crisis, the sale would ratchet up an arms race with Iran, Senator Paul said.