WASHINGTON, Feb. 28 – Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) introduced Wednesday a bipartisan joint resolution to remove U.S. Armed Forces from hostilities between the Saudi-led coalition and the Houthis in Yemen pursuant to the War Powers Resolution. The bill will force the first-ever vote in the Senate to withdraw U.S. Armed Forces from an unauthorized war.
As a result of the Saudi-led war, a child under the age of five in Yemen dies of preventable causes every 10 minutes. More than 10,000 civilians have died and more than 40,000 have been wounded in this war. Fifteen million people can’t access clean water and sanitation. An estimated 17 million people – 60 percent of the total population – do not have reliable access to food and are at risk of starvation.
In 2015, the Obama administration, without consulting Congress, quickly deployed U.S. military forces to provide “logistical and intelligence support” to the Saudi coalition. U.S. military support for this intervention continues to this day. U.S. forces are coordinating, refueling, and providing targeting guidance and intelligence to the Saudi-led coalition, as confirmed recently by Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis.
Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution states that “Congress shall have power to... declare war.” However, U.S. participation in Saudi and Emirati hostilities against Yemen’s Houthis has never been explicitly authorized by Congress as required by law.
Under the War Powers Resolution of 1973, the assignment of a member of the United States Armed Forces to “command, coordinate, participate in the movement of, or accompany” another country’s military during a war constitutes the introduction of U.S. Armed Forces into a conflict. This definition indisputably applies to U.S. military activities in Yemen in support of the Saudi-led coalition.
In November, the House of Representatives passed, by a vote of 366-30, a resolution stating that "Congress has not enacted specific legislation authorizing the use of military force against parties participating in the Yemeni civil war that are not otherwise subject to" the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force or the 2003 AUMF in Iraq.
The Sanders-Lee-Murphy joint resolution is guaranteed a vote in the Senate in accordance with the procedures outlined in the International Security and Arms Export Control Act of 1976. It will be referred to the Foreign Relations Committee and if it hasn’t been reported within 10 calendar days, it is subject to a motion to discharge. If reported or discharged from committee, the motion to proceed to the measure is privileged. The joint resolution is debatable for 10 hours on the Senate floor.
“We believe that, as Congress has not declared war or authorized military force in this conflict, the United States involvement in Yemen is unconstitutional and unauthorized, and U.S. military support of the Saudi coalition must end,” Sanders said. “That is why today we are introducing a joint resolution pursuant to the 1973 War Powers Resolution calling for an end to U.S. support for the Saudi war in Yemen.”
“With this resolution, Congress can re-assert power over foreign policy decision-making,” Lee said. "It can authorize – or decline to authorize – military engagement and define U.S. national interests."
“Thousands and thousands of innocent civilians inside Yemen today are dying, and the United States is complicit," Murphy said. "This horror is caused in part by our decision to facilitate a bombing campaign that is murdering children, and to endorse a Saudi strategy inside Yemen that is deliberately using disease and starvation and the withdrawal of humanitarian support as a tactic. There is no legal authorization for the United States to be part of a war inside Yemen, and Congress cannot continue to be silent."
A similar resolution, introduced by Reps. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) and Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) and Walter Jones (R-N.C.), has 50 cosponsors in the House.
To view the resolution, click here.
To view a fact sheet, click here.
For statements from outside validators, click here.