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Trump to sidestep Congress to clear $8 billion arms deals benefiting Saudi Arabia, UAE

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo notified lawmakers Friday that President Donald Trump is invoking his emergency authority to sidestep Congress and complete 22 arms deals worth approximately $8 billion that would benefit Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and other countries, despite lawmakers' objections to the transactions.

Both Republicans and Democrats urged the Trump administration this week not to take the rare step of declaring an emergency to push through arms deals that lawmakers have blocked, including a controversial sale of precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia that some lawmakers fear may be used against civilians in the war-torn country of Yemen.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., who had been blocking that sale, said in a statement Friday that in making the move, Trump "failed once again to prioritize our long-term national security interests or stand up for human rights, and instead is granting favors to authoritarian countries like Saudi Arabia."

"The administration failed to even identify which legal mechanism it thinks it is using, described years of malign Iranian behavior but failed to identify what actually constitutes an emergency today, and critically, failed to explain how these systems, many of which will take years to come online, would immediately benefit either the United States or our allies and thus merit such hasty action," Menendez continued, accusing Trump of "destroying" relations between Congress and the executive branch, and jeopardizing the interests of defense contractors.

In a statement, Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Sen. James Risch, R-Idaho, said that he was "reviewing and analyzing the legal justification for this action and the associated implications."




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