In a recent bid to force congress to vote on whether they actually want the United States participating in a war against Yemen with their theocratic ally, Saudi Arabia, US House Leadership exercised some parliamentary and linguistic gymnastics to prevent the resolution, House Concurrent Resolution 81, from seeing the light of day.
Just before the vote, on November 1st, House Leaders pulled a parliamentary trick by voting on the resolution in the Rules Committee, which removed its privileged status. This move meant that the resolution was no longer guaranteed to be given an actual floor vote.
House Leaders asserted the war in Yemen hadn’t risen to a level that it would invoke the War Powers Act. Instead of a vote on the resolution, the House will conduct a non-binding debate on Yemen on November 13th.
House Concurrent Resolution 81 (H.Con.Res.81) is sponsored by Representatives, Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Walter Jones (R-NC), Mark Pocan (D-Wisc.), Thomas Massie (R-KY), and 39 other lawmakers. The resolution commands an end to U.S. participation in the Saudi-led war in Yemen.
The sponsors of this resolution contend that such participation, which began in March 2015, was never authorized under the War Powers Act of 1973. Per the War Powers Act, any congressman can pose a legal challenge and is guaranteed a floor vote on the issue. This is known as a privileged resolution.
On November 1st, the night before the vote was scheduled to take place, House leadership swiftly pushed through a Rules Committee vote, denying the resolution’s privileged status. Thus, preventing the guaranteed floor vote.
What was their justification? Apparently, the House Rules Committee feels that the war in Yemen has yet to ‘rise to a level’ where the War Powers Act is applicable.
After preventing the vote on H.Con.Res.81, the House Leadership has said it shall permit a ‘compromise’ resolution on the war in Yemen. The debate, scheduled for the week of November 13th, will discuss the legality of U.S. involvement in the war. The vote will be non-binding.
Five peace activist groups, heavily engaged in promoting the resolution, said just after the Rules Committee vote:
“We remind the House leadership that under the War Powers Resolution of 1973,
“‘introduction of United States Armed Forces ’includes the assignment of member of such armed forces to command, coordinate, participate in the movement of, or accompany the regular or irregular military forces of any foreign country or government when such military forces are engaged…’
U.S. refueling of Saudi-UAE planes bombing Houthi targets in Yemen meets that definition.’”
Therefore the War Powers Act, clearly applies to the war on Yemen.
The House leadership is lying to the American people, supporting the continuation of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, violating the War Powers Act, and attempting to prevent Congress from stopping yet another illegal and unconstitutional war.
Conservatively, since the beginning of 2017, at least 10,000 people have been killed in this war. The heroic and indispensable Yemeni journalist Nasser Arrabyee has said the toll could be as high as 60,000 deaths.
The Saudis are ruthlessly bombarding the Yemenis and their civilian infrastructure. The coalition wants to cripple the people of Yemen to the point of submission. Their end goal is to force Yemen’s civilians to stop supporting the northern tribesmen if only to alleviate their suffering.
U.S. involvement is most critical to the Saudi effort in this war. The U.S. military is training Saudi Arabian forces. The U.S. is refueling the coalition’s warplanes not just in the air with tanker sorties, but also on its bases peppered throughout the region.