WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, released the following statement on failure today of the Senate to override three vetoes by President Trump regarding arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The president has falsely used emergency authority to continue arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE despite congressional objections.
“Today, by voting against the override of the President’s vetoes of bipartisan arms sales resolutions of disapproval, Republicans abdicated their constitutionally mandated responsibilities as lawmakers. We have both a legal and moral obligation to make certain that U.S. weapons are not used to repress human rights or perpetrate violence against innocent civilians. As the world’s leading arms supplier, it is critical that we maintain oversight of our military might and weapons to ensure that they only go to support allies who uphold our values and that they don’t end up in the hands of enemies who seek to do us harm. These sales cannot come at the expense of human rights, mass atrocities, and regional destabilization. Saudi Arabia has shown a total disregard for international law by using U.S.-provided arms to level devastating attacks on civilians, including young children. Just this morning, a Saudi led airstrike killed at least 10 civilians in northern Yemen. This must end.
“United States foreign policy must be driven by our values. The one thing that both Republicans and Democrats should be able to agree on is this: No U.S arms should ever be linked to the deaths of innocent civilians. No U.S. arms should ever be used to intimidate and destroy the defenseless. No U.S. arms should ever end up in the hands a child soldier, or a terrorist. We may disagree on policy, but our values will always bridge the partisan divide. That is why Congress and the Administration must take a more holistic look at this issue.
“My bipartisan legislation, S. 854, the Enhancing Human Rights in Arms Sales Act of 2019, offers a comprehensive approach. My bill would help ensure that certain U.S. weapons are not provided to governments that engage in human rights abuses, commit war crimes, or have ties to extremist organizations. By requiring human rights certifications on certain arms sales and transfers, and developing strategies to monitor their misuse, my bill enables us to stay vigilant and properly vet our deadliest arms transfers. I will continue to fight for this common sense measure. It is critical that Congress asserts its oversight on this matter and that we strengthen our commitment to the protection of human rights.”