FILE PHOTO: Senators Mike Lee (R-UT), Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) speak after the senate voted on a resolution ending U.S. military support for the war in Yemen on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., December 13, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
July 20, 2021
By Patricia Zengerle
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Three U.S. senators who have campaigned to clamp down on foreign weapons sales and pare back military action without congressional approval will introduce their broadest effort yet on Tuesday to claw back war powers from the White House.
Democratic Senator Chris Murphy, Republican Mike Lee and Independent Bernie Sanders will unveil their “National Security Powers Act” on Tuesday, sources familiar with the measure said.
The legislation has three parts – one to increase Congress’ control over the authorization of military actions, another to reform the review of major foreign weapons sales and a third to increase Congress’ control over the declaration of “national emergencies,” which can be used to justify weapons sales or military strikes.
“More than ever before, presidents are sending men and women into battle without public debate, and making major policy decisions, like massive arms sales, without congressional input,” Murphy said in a statement.
The bill is the latest in a series of efforts by lawmakers to cut back on big weapons sales to countries in volatile regions and push both Republican and Democratic presidents to end support for countries involved in conflicts devastating to civilians such as the civil war in Yemen.
Efforts to repeal Authorizations for the Use of Military Force, or AUMFs, first enacted decades ago for conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, are also making their way through Congress.
The Senate and House passed legislation sponsored by Lee, Murphy and Sanders in 2019 to end U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the conflict in Yemen, but it did not survive then-President Donald Trump’s veto.
The Republican ex-president also successfully vetoed resolutions passed in Congress to block huge weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
A path forward for the new legislation was not immediately clear. It would need to pass both the Senate and House of Representatives and be signed by President Joe Biden to become law.
Representative Jim McGovern, the Democratic chairman of the powerful Rules Committee, is backing a companion measure in the House.
(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Aurora Ellis)