WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump vetoed the War Powers Act resolution that would have halted U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, taking a step Pentagon officials had hoped he would.
Trump issued the veto, his second of his term, late Tuesday. “This resolution is an unnecessary, dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities, endangering the lives of American citizens and brave service members, both today and in the future,” Trump said in the veto statement.
Pentagon officials reaffirmed their opposition to the resolution on Wednesday, saying it would limit U.S. influence on Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as they engage in the Yemen war.
Humanitarian groups call the Yemen war the planet’s worst humanitarian crisis.
The resolution required the withdrawal within 30 days of U.S. military forces in or “affecting” Yemen unless they are fighting al Qaeda.
The measure had bipartisan support in both chambers, passing the Senate in a 54-46 vote in March and the House on a 247-175 vote in early April. Neither margin is the two-third required to override a presidential veto.
Lawmakers from both parties have grown increasingly opposed to the U.S.-Saudi relationship, especially with a fuller awareness of the close business relationship between Trump’s family and Saudi officials.
Additionally, House and Senate members remain furious at what they perceive as the weak White House response to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, orchestrated by Saudi officials.
Yemen’s civil war started in 2014 when Houthi rebels captured Sanaa, Yemen’s capital. The Houthis are supported by Iran; the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition is battling them on behalf of the Yemen government.
At least 6,800 civilians have been killed and 10,700 injured in the war, with 22 million people in need of humanitarian aid, and a cholera outbreak that has infected 1.2 million people, the United Nations has said. U.N. agencies have reported that 14 million Yemenis face famine.