A bipartisan House bill announced Oct. 23 aims to prohibit military sales and aid to Saudi Arabia, effectively immediately.
Rep. James McGovern (D-Mass.) is sponsoring a new bill co-signed by 20 lawmakers in the House that would ban the Defense Department from providing any assistance — to include security assistance, intelligence, training, equipment, maintenance, testing or technical data — to any of the Gulf nation’s ministries or government agencies, he said Wednesday. The bill would also ban all arms sales to Riyadh, although its language includes a waiver on a case-by-case basis for “specific activity” requested by the president and approved via a joint congressional resolution.
The proposed bill is the latest in a series of calls from lawmakers in the House and in the Senate to lessen or withdraw military support to Saudi Arabia in the wake of the murder of Saudi native and U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi. McGovern, who serves as ranking member of the House Rules Committee and co-chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights commission, had previously introduced a bill Oct. 17 which would have tied arms sales to the U.S. determining that the Saudi government played a role in Khashoggi’s murder.
Khashoggi, a writer for the Washington Post, was last seen Oct. 2 entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, and U.S. leadership has determined he was murdered there. At an event hosted Oct. 23 by the Post in Washington, D.C., Vice President Mike Pence called the incident a “brutal murder of a journalist, of an innocent man, of a dissident [that] will not go without an American response.” (Defense Daily)
White House officials have been working with the Turkish and Saudi governments to find out the details, and investigate the possible involvement of higher-level officials from Riyadh.
In a statement, McGovern said that the facts point to Khashoggi being killed at the Saudi consulate, and that “the use of a diplomatic post as a torture chamber is an affront not only to international norms, but to basic human decency.”
“The inconsistent and implausible explanations put forth by the Saudi government make absolutely no sense and defy credibility,” he added. “With the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, it’s time for the United States to halt all weapons sales and military aid to Saudi Arabia. … We need to step up as a country and do the right thing.”
Republican co-signers of the bill include Reps. Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Walter Jones of North Carolina and Justin Amash of Michigan.
Democratic co-signers include: Debbie Dingell (Mich.); Jan Schakowsky (Ill.); Peter Welch (Vt.); Jared Huffman (Calif.); John Lewis (Ga.); Mark Pocan (Wis.); Mark DeSaulnier (Calif.); Frank Pallone, Jr. (N.J.); Barbara Lee (Calif.); Rick Nolan (Minn.); Peter DeFazio (Ore.); Ro Khanna (Calif.); Jackie Speier (Calif.); Chellie Pingree (Maine); Raúl Grijalva (Ariz.); Nydia Velázquez (N.Y.); and Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii).
Jones, Speier, Khanna and Gabbard are members of the House Armed Services Committee.