The Trump administration chose the Friday afternoon before Memorial Day weekend to invoke an obscure state-of-emergency provision that would allow it to sell billions of dollars in weapons to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates without giving Congress a chance to block the sale.
Under the 1976 Arms Export Control Act, the State Department must notify Congress 30 days before concluding an arms sale, which gives Congress the chance to vote on halting the weapons transfer.
Since 2015, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have been involved in an intervention in Yemen, aimed at restoring the former president, Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, to power.
Menendez previously held up $2 billion in sales of precision-guided bombs to Saudi Arabia and the UAE over human rights concerns.
In the past, presidents who invoked the provision have been able to point to time-sensitive emergencies that justified going around Congress.
Connecticut Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy, who warned days ago that the Trump administration would try to circumvent Congress, said that President Donald Trump is only using the loophole because he knows he cannot sell weapons to Saudi Arabia any other way.
“There is no new ‘emergency’ reason to sell bombs to the Saudis to drop in Yemen, and doing so only perpetuates the humanitarian crisis there,” Murphy said in a statement Friday. »