Senate Passes S.J.Res.54

WASHINGTON--This afternoon, 56 US senators voted in favor of Senate Joint Resolution 54, formally titled “A joint resolution to direct the removal of United States Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen that have not been authorized by Congress.” The Yemen Peace Project--along with a broad coalition of advocacy organizations and NGOs--has been working to generate support for this measure for more than a year, and we applaud the bipartisan majority that passed the resolution for taking courageous and unprecedented action to end US support for the Saudi-led coalition’s intervention into Yemen’s civil war.

The debate over S.J.Res.54 has been long and intense. The White House and Department of Defense have lobbied strenuously against its passage and for the continuation of military assistance for the Saudi-led intervention. Meanwhile, dozens of former government and military officials, scholars, policy experts, and humanitarian actors have argued in favor of the resolution. In recent months the bill has received an unprecedented wave of grassroots support as well, as ordinary people across the United States have demanded that their government end its complicity in a military campaign that has killed thousands of civilians and brought about the world’s worst humanitarian disaster.

We are under no illusions that today’s vote, on its own, will end the war or the widespread suffering in Yemen. But it will help move the warring parties closer to a political settlement. This fact was borne out early this morning, when representatives of Yemen’s government and the Houthi leadership signed an agreement on a cease-fire and military withdrawal from al-Hudaydah, the most important front in the war, as well as an exchange of prisoners and other confidence-building measures. It is not a coincidence that this agreement came hours after the Senate voted to advance S.J.Res.54 to a final vote. This bill sends a powerful message to Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and the Yemeni government that Congress and the American people will not stand by while US allies pursue a brutal war that cannot be won and threatens to stoke further regional conflict. Congressional opposition to the intervention has changed the Saudi-led coalition’s calculations and provided an incentive to negotiate in good faith for an end to the war.

Today’s vote serves also as a strong rebuke to the Trump administration. Congress has demonstrated that it will not allow this administration, deeply compromised by its inappropriate relationships with the Saudi regime and other foreign powers, to disregard the constitution, human rights, or the rule of law with impunity.

While we celebrate this legislative victory, we recognize that this is only a step toward peace in Yemen. Ultimately it is up to the warring parties themselves to end this horrific conflict. But debates and legislation in influential countries like the US can create space for negotiations and push the parties to moderate their behavior. We will continue to use every available tool to do so.