U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) released the following statement in regard to S.J.Res. 54, or “the Sanders-Lee Yemen Resolution”:
“I voted against the Yemen resolution that the Senate voted on this week for a few reasons. First, it uses the War Powers Resolution to justify withdrawing support to the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen. However, because U.S. forces are not directly engaged in hostilities in Yemen, the premise of the resolution is flawed. Second, members of the coalition in Yemen are strategic allies to the U.S. and greatly assist our counterterrorism and stability operations in the region.
“Because of recent serious events, some of my colleagues pushed to make the Yemen resolution a referendum on Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the killing of Mr. Khashoggi, but that is a separate issue that must be given its own debate once the facts come to light. Conflating these two issues at this critical time could weaken the ability of coalition members to negotiate toward a peace process on the eve of critical talks, and may prolong the dire situation in Yemen further.”
Senator Ernst believes that the United States should act on the murder of Mr. Khashoggi, and will support congressional efforts to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for the killing of the journalist.
Developments in the conflict led Senator Ernst to engage Secretaries Mattis and Pompeo earlier this fall to request that the United States cease its refueling support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. Saudi Arabia and the United States recently announced that support would no longer be provided by the United States, with Saudi Arabia now taking full responsibility for refueling missions connected to the civil war in Yemen.
The United States’ existing support for Saudi Arabia is focused primarily on intelligence sharing. Removing all support for the Saudi-led coalition harms critical national security interests in the region, including: counterterrorism operations against AQAP and ISIS; containing Iran’s influence on its neighbors; and, protecting commercial trade. Moreover, completely disengaging removes our ability to help bring a political solution to the war in Yemen, which is causing mass starvation, political instability and radicalization.