Congress is planning a series of override votes late Monday to try to block President Donald Trump from selling weapons to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Jordan. Regrettably, none of the override efforts is expected to pass.
Lawmakers passed three resolutions in June in opposition to a total of 22 arms packages put together by the White House. The weapons deals, agreed to via an emergency provision of the Arms Export Control Act, allowed the administration to sidestep normal notification protocols usually associated with arms sales.
All three resolutions to try to block the arms deals passed in the Republican-controlled Senate, with several GOP senators joining their Democratic colleagues to hold the White House accountable
Trump earlier this month, announced he was vetoing all three resolutions, clearing a path for the sales — and setting up a showdown between the White House and several Republican members of the Senate who supported the initial resolutions.
Although the resolutions needed just a simple majority to pass in the Senate, a veto override would require 67 votes in the Senate. None of the resolutions in dispute received more than 53 votes in the Senate.
Lawmakers of all political persuasions on Capitol Hill have grown increasingly wary of the United States’ relationship with Saudi Arabia in particular, after the Middle Eastern kingdom was found to have been directly involved in the brutal murder of U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year. The international intelligence community universally implicated members of the Saudi royal family in Khashoggi’s killing, a finding that Donald Trump unilaterally rejected without any evidence.
Lawmakers also have expressed concerns over Saudi’s increasingly deadly role in Yemen’s civil war.
But the Saudi royal family arguably has had no greater ally than Donald Trump since the failed businessman took office in 2017. Even after the Central Intelligence Agency concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had ordered the killing of Khashoggi, Trump rushed to the defense of Saudi Arabia.
Of course, Trump professed loyalty to Saudi Arabia long before he took office.
“Saudi Arabia, I get along with all of them,” he told a campaign crowd during the 2016 presidential campaign. “They buy apartments from me. They spend $40 million, $50 million….Am I supposed to dislike them?”
Saudi investments in Trump properties also have been well-documented, and in some instances make up the entirety of his properties’ financial stability, according to the Center for Responsive Politics:
A single “last minute” visit by the Saudi Crown Prince drove Trump International Hotel in Manhattan’s room revenue up 13 percent in the first three months of 2018 following a two-year decline. A 2018 report to Trump Hotel Chicago investors on foreign and U.S. customers broken down by country originally obtained by the Washington Post showed a 169 percent increase in Saudi Arabia-based patrons since 2016. Planning documents, agendas and conversations with organizers indicate that the Saudi government paid for more than 500 nights in Trump hotel rooms.