The sale of high-tech weapons and ammunitions to an indiscriminate ally has been one of the reasons based on which a similar sale of weapons to Riyadh had been blocked by the previous U.S. Administration.
With the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, receiving a formal notice of a pending sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia, on Thursday, lawmakers introduced legislation to partially block a portion of the weapons sales.
Republican Rand Paul and Democrats Chris Murphy and Al Franken have introduced a resolution of disapproval in the Senate to force a vote on whether to block part of the sale.
As per the Arms Export Control Act, 1976 a U.S. senator can force a vote on arms sales, once the U.S. Congress is formally notified of plans to go ahead.
Incidentally, the three senators had introduced a similar resolution in 2016, which sought to block the sale of $1.15 billion of tanks and other equipment to Saudi Arabia, which was defeated overwhelmingly.
Saudi Arabia was the first country Trump visited on his first international trip. The visit was marked by the announcement of Saudi Arabia agreeing to by U.S. arms worth $110 billion with options running as high as $350 billion over 10 years.
The trio lawmakers aim to block around $500 million of the sale, which includes precision-guided munitions and other offensive weapons.
“Given Saudi Arabia’s past support of terror, poor human rights record, and questionable tactics in its war in Yemen, Congress must carefully consider and thoroughly debate if selling them billions of dollars of arms is in our best national security interest at this time,” said Paul in a statement.
Significantly, members of the U.S. House of Representatives also took proactive action of the proposed sale with Republican Representative Ted Yoho and Democrat Ted Lieu writing to the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee asking for a hearing to review the sale of precision-guided munitions to Riyadh.
The previous U.S. administration had suspended the the planned sale of precision-guided munitions in December citing concerns over the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen.
Trump has said, he wants to encourage sales of weapons to other countries in order to boost U.S. jobs.