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Senator Lankford Supports Peace in Yemen; Opposes Resolution

CLICK HERE to watch Lankford’s remarks on the floor.

WASHINGTON, DC —Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today expressed his support for peace in Yemen and opposed passage of a resolution before the Senate to attempt to halt what some have falsely claimed is American involvement in the hostilities in Yemen between the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels and the Yemeni government. Despite Lankford’s “no” vote, the resolution ultimately passed in a vote of 56 to 41. Following the vote, the Senate unanimously passed a resolution to condemn Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and call on Saudi Arabia to hold accountable those responsible.

At the end of November, the Senate advanced a joint resolution to cut off US military support to the Saudi-led coalition against the Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen who illegitimately and forcibly overthrew Yemen’s government in 2014. The joint resolution, introduced by Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Mike Lee (R-UT), argued that the President is not authorized by Congress or other legal means to involve the US military in the conflict in Yemen. The resolution advanced by a vote of 63-37, allowing it to come up for a vote today. This same resolution was unsuccessfully considered in the Senate in March of this year. 

“In Yemen, some of the worst terrorists who directly target US citizens are hiding in the ungoverned desert, taking advantage of the civil war in the southern and western regions of the country,” said Lankford. “The US military is currently only engaged with terrorist entities in Yemen such as al-Qaeda and ISIS; they are not directly involved in the civil war or fighting the Iran-backed Houthis. Our forces remain committed to working to prevent the loss of life of as many of the Yemeni people as possible. The US provides guidance on ways to comply with international laws governing armed conflict and ways to reduce civilian casualties. UN-brokered peace talks between the two sides are currently ongoing in Sweden, and withdrawing US engagement now could undermine the peace process. If Congress forces the Trump Administration to cease our support for the Saudi-led coalition—something that began under President Obama—it would yield more civilian deaths, prolong the prospect for peace in Yemen, and give Iran another Middle East stronghold for its aggressive, anti-US influence campaign. In short, withdrawal is certain to make a bad situation in Yemen even worse. We cannot allow political games to cloud our judgment in supporting long-term US interests in Yemen and the greater Middle East.”

The US is providing humanitarian aid to the Yemeni people at a scale unmatched by any other country and is the largest contributor of assistance to Yemen, providing nearly $1.5 billion since Fiscal Year 2015.