AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt, John Locher, File
- There’s an ongoing, bipartisan push in Congress for a resolution to end US support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.
- Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna, who’s been at the forefront of these efforts in the House, told INSIDER that GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham could be a "game-changer" on this issue.
- Khanna is working to convince Graham to support the Yemen resolution in the Senate.
- Graham is one of the most influential Republican senators, especially on foreign policy, and has a close relationship with President Donald Trump.
A key Democrat behind legislative efforts to end US support for Saudi Arabia in Yemen is working to convince Sen. Lindsey Graham to support the measure and said the Republican could be a "game-changer" in convincing President Donald Trump to get on board.
Since Jamal Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, in October, there’s been a major shift in Congress when it comes to the US government’s ties to Saudi Arabia.
The US has been a steadfast partner of the Saudis for years, but Khashoggi’s killing has strained the relationship. Now, there’s an ongoing, bipartisan effort in Congress for the US to end its support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, where a brutal conflict has led to a devastating humanitarian crisis.
Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna of California, who’s been at the forefront of the push to end US involvement in the Yemen conflict, believes Graham could be the key to getting other Republicans and President Donald Trump to embrace a resolution to this effect.
As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Graham is one of the most influential figures in the GOP foreign policy establishment. The South Carolina Republican is also one of Trump’s more influential confidants.
Graham’s influence in Congress and on the president are why Khanna is working behind the scenes to get Graham to support the Yemen resolution.
"I think he could be a game-changer in this thing," Khanna said.
In particular, Khanna said that Graham’s influence with Trump could help in the effort to get the president to support the resolution.
Khanna told INSIDER he had a phone call with Graham about the resolution on Tuesday.
"Sen. Graham and I spoke today about our shared concern for the humanitarian situation in Yemen. Although we may have genuine differences on the use of the War Power, I am convinced Senator Graham understands the Saudi atrocities in Yemen and that he will be a very strong public and private voice to end the suffering of the Yemeni people," Khanna said. "I appreciate the work he is doing to bring the Yemen civil war to an end."
Khanna said Graham is "at least open to" supporting a resolution on Yemen. Graham’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from INSIDER.
When asked why Trump should reconsider, Khanna said, "No one wants the destabilization of Saudi Arabia, that would be a disaster … But that doesn’t mean we have to be allies in this war. We still can have some leverage over them to not engage in terrible behavior."
AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File
In December, the Senate defied Trump by invoking the War Powers Act of 1973 and passing a resolution withdrawing US support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. At the time, House Republicans blocked further discussions on the matter. Graham did not vote for the resolution, despite being a vocal critic of Saudi Arabia following Khashoggi’s killing.
But after a Democratic majority took over the House in 2019, the issue was revived and a resolution on Yemen sponsored by Khanna passed 248 to 177 in February. This was yet another rebuke of Trump and viewed as a huge win for progressives on foreign policy.
Khanna’s resolution has since hit a procedural roadblock in the Senate, however, and is delayed.
The resolution that passed the Senate in December was spearheaded by Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, with Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah as cosponsors.
Now that Khanna’s resolution has been tied up in a procedural quagmire, Sanders is pushing for his version of the resolution in the Senate once more. Khanna supports this effort, and if the resolution passes in the Senate it has a good shot of moving through the House.
Despite a Republican majority in the Senate, Sanders’ foreign policy adviser, Matt Duss, thinks the resolution has a realistic chance of passing.
"We are optimistic," Duss told INSIDER. "51 of the 56 Senators who voted for it in December are still in the Senate, and the Yemen war is just as much of a disaster, and US involvement in it just as unconstitutional, today as it was then."
When asked whether Sanders was open to working with folks like Graham, who seems have Trump’s ear, Duss said, "As December’s vote showed, there’s bipartisan support for ending US involvement in the Yemen catastrophe and reasserting Congressional authority over matters of war, so we’re working to bring Democrats, Republicans, and Independents together again this time."
An aide to Sanders told INSIDER a vote on the senator’s Yemen resolution would most likely occur sometime next week.
- Bernie Sanders draws in huge, young, diverse crowd for first 2020 rally on a snowy day in Brooklyn
- The crowd at a Bernie Sanders rally in Brooklyn this weekend contradicts one of the most common misconceptions about his supporters
- Bernie Sanders finally got personal in his first big 2020 rally, which is a major break from his 2016 campaign