Three U.S. senators announced on Thursday that they intend to block the Biden administration’s first major arms deal with Saudi Arabia over objections to the gulf kingdom’s role in the war in Yemen, Reuters reported.
Republicans Rand Paul and Mike Lee, along with independent Bernie Sanders who caucuses with the Democrats, made the announcement in a joint statement criticizing the State Department’s October 26 approval of the sale to Riyadh of 280 air-to-air missiles valued at up to $650 million.
On November 4, a U.S. State Department spokesperson said that the arms sale comes after "an increase in cross-border attacks against Saudi Arabia over the past year."
The State Department said that the sale "is fully consistent with the administration's pledge to lead with diplomacy to end the conflict in Yemen.”
They added that the air-to-air missiles ensure "Saudi Arabia has the means to defend itself from Iranian-backed Houthi air attacks.”
White most lawmakers in Congress see the Saudis as an important American regional ally, the country has also taken heat for its actions in the conflict in Yemen. There has been a movement in Congress to not approve arms sales without assurances that American military hardware will not be used to target civilians.
“This sale could accelerate an arms race in the Middle East and jeopardize the security of our military technologies,” Paul said in a the statement.
Sanders added: “As the Saudi government continues to wage its devastating war in Yemen and repress its own people, we should not be rewarding them with more arms sales.”
The Biden administration has defended the deal, stating that its policy is to only sell defensive weapons to Saudi Arabia.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)