US House rebukes Trump, backs measure to end Yemen involvement

16 Republicans joined Democrats in backing rare use of War Powers Act

Reuters April 05, 2019
US Donald Trump. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON DC: The United States House of Representatives approved a resolution on Thursday that would end all US involvement in the war in Yemen, rebuffing President Donald Trump’s policy.

As the resolution had already passed the US Senate, the vote in the Democratic-led House sends the measure to the White House, which said last month Trump would issue a veto. It would be the second veto of his presidency.

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The vote in the House was 247-175, as 16 Republicans joined the majority Democrats in backing the rare use of the War Powers Act, which limits the president’s ability to send troops into action.

Thursday’s vote marked the first time both chambers of Congress have supported a War Powers resolution.

“The president will have to face the reality that Congress is no longer going to ignore its constitutional obligations when it comes to foreign policy,” Representative Eliot Engel, the Democratic chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said before the vote.

Still, neither the House tally nor the 54-46 bipartisan vote in the Senate, where Republicans have a slim majority, would be enough to override a veto.

The four-year-long civil war in Yemen has killed tens of thousands of people and spawned what the United Nations calls the world’s most dire humanitarian crisis, with the country on the brink of famine.

Backers of the War Powers resolution said the campaign in Yemen had made the humanitarian crisis worse.

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They also argued that US involvement in Yemen violated the constitutional requirement that Congress, not the president, should determine when the country goes to war.

Resolution opponents argued that support was not an appropriate use of the War Powers Act, because the military provides support such as targeting assistance, not troops on the ground.

They also argued that it could boost Iran.

Defense Department spokesperson Commander Rebecca Rebarich said in a statement after the vote that new restrictions on US military support could “increase civilian casualties, jeopardize cooperation with our partners on counterterrorism, undercut UN-led peace negotiations at a critical point, and embolden Iran.”

Overcoming Trump’s veto would require two-thirds majorities in both the Senate and House.