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U.S. House rebukes Trump on Saudi Arabia, backs measure to end Yemen involvement

U.S. House rebukes Trump on Saudi Arabia, backs measure to end Yemen involvement
U.S. President Donald Trump participates in a White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council meeting in the Cabinet room at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 4, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque   -   Copyright  KEVIN LAMARQUE(Reuters)
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By Patricia Zengerle

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. House of Representatives approved a resolution on Thursday to end U.S. support for the Saudi Arabia-led coalition in the war in Yemen, rebuffing President Donald Trump’s policy of continued support for the kingdom.

As the resolution had already passed the Senate, the vote in the Democratic-led House sends the measure to the White House, which said last month Trump would issue a veto. It would be the second of his presidency.

The vote in the House was 247-175, as 16 Republicans joined the majority Democrats in backing the rare use of the War Powers Act, which limits the president’s ability to send troops into action.

“The president will have to face the reality that Congress is no longer going to ignore its constitutional obligations when it comes to foreign policy,” Representative Eliot Engel, the Democratic chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said before the vote.

Still, neither the House tally nor the 54-46 bipartisan vote in the Senate, where Republicans have a slim majority, would be enough to override a veto.

The four-year-long civil war in Yemen, which pits the Saudi-led coalition against Houthi rebels backed by Iran, has killed tens of thousands of people and spawned what the United Nations calls the world’s most dire humanitarian crisis, with the country on the brink of famine.

Backers of the resolution argued that U.S. involvement in Yemen violated the constitutional requirement that Congress, not the president, should determine when the country goes to war.

Resolution opponents argued that support for the Saudi-led coalition was not an appropriate use of the War Powers Act, which limits the president’s ability to send troops into action.

Getting the measure passed took months, despite outrage in Congress over the civilian toll in the Yemen conflict, Saudi Arabia’s human rights record and calls for a tougher line on the government in Riyadh after the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S. resident, at a Saudi consulate in Turkey in October.

House Republicans, who had derailed the resolution earlier this year by tying it to a measure condemning anti-Semitism, tried to stop it again on Thursday by adding a provision opposing the Boycott, Divest, Sanction (BDS) movement seeking to punish Israel for its treatment of Palestinians.

That effort failed in the House and was condemned by the House Democratic majority leader as a “cynical, political ploy.”

Overcoming Trump’s veto would require two-third majorities in both the Senate and the House.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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