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By Dan De Luce, Courtney Kube and Abigail Williams
Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy warned on Wednesday that the Trump administration is considering a move to bypass Congress and push through the sale of bombs to Saudi Arabia by declaring a national security speed.
The Connecticut lawyer, an incredible critic of Saudi Arabia's human rights record and his military campaign in Yemen, expressed concern about the possible action in a number of tweets.
"I hear that Trump must use an unclear loophole in the Arms Control Act and notice a great new sale of bombs to Saudi Arabia those who fall into Yemen) in a way that prevents the congress from objecting." Murphy wrote.
"Arms Control Law allows Congress to refuse a sale to a foreign country. But Trump would argue the sale constitutes an" emergency, "meaning Congress can't vote against. It would go through automatically," Murphy tweeted.
The White House National Security Council refused to comment.
Asked about Murphy's comments, Prime Minister spokesman Morgan Ortagus told reporters: "We do not comment to confirm or deny potential weapons sales or transfers until Congress is formally notified."
Three US officials who spoke on condition anonymity, NBC News reported that the administration was ready to reveal a weapons sale to Saudi Arabia. But they did not offer any more details or confirmed that President Donald Trump was planning to declare an emergency to bypass the congress.
Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen against Houthi rebels, marked by a heavy civilian death penalty from air strikes and the killing of Saudi Arabia journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul has driven to grow hostility in Congress against Riyadh.
A two-party majority in Congress voted to halt US support for the Saudi Arabian Yemeni war but President Trump vetoed the legislation last month.
Any move of Trump to speed up a arms trade without congressional approval would trigger an angry reaction among legislators from both sides of the time and possibly lead to attempts to adopt a broader ban on arms sales to the Saudis.
The democratic beds Bob Menendez from New Jersey has kept you on sale of precision-controlled bombs to Saudi Arabia since April 2018. The Senator has blocked the sale of forward-looking human rights group accusations that Saudi Arabian forces have not secured the protection of civilian life and carried out independent bombing in Yemen. Riyadh rejects the allegations.
Menendez and other lawmakers have also expressed anger over the killing of Khashoggi, a Washington Post post colonist last seen in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018. The CIA has concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the journalist's killing according to a person who was informed of the CIA's assessment.
Murphy raised the possibility that Trump would mention tensions with Iran as an "emergency" to justify invoking his authority.
Democrats said that such a move would set a "dangerous precedent" that could undermine the congress as a control of presidential power.
Under US arms control law, Congress must be given 30 days to approve US arms trade to foreign countries. But in a rarely used provision of this law, the president can declare an "emergency" equality congress and send the sale through instantly. In 1984, President Ronald Reagan applied the same provision to sell 400 Stinger missiles and 200 launch to Saudi Arabia in response to their urgent request for help defending the kingdom against Iran.
The law still requires the US President to submit to Congress a justification for emergency weapons trade, referring to the national security interests involved.
Saudi Arabia remains America's largest foreign military sales customer with over $ 129 billion in approved purchases.
In November last year after the killing of Khashoggi, Trump justified the controversial relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia by pointing to the economic benefits of arms trade to Saudi Arabia.
In May, about 27.9 billion were dollars or 25% of a 10-year $ 110 billion arms deal – negotiated under the Trump administration and signed in 2017 – had been completed.