anasalhajj via shutterstock
Children stand on their school that was destroyed by the war in the city of Taiz, Yemen, on Nov. 2, 2018. (anasalhajj via shutterstock)

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump this week vetoed a resolution seeking an end to U.S. participation in the Saudi-led war in Yemen that was championed by Senator Chris Murphy.

In his veto message to Congress, Trump said called the resolution “an unnecessary, dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities, endangering the lives of American citizens and brave service members, both today and in the future.”

Murphy issued a statement opposing the veto: “This is a huge mistake. The civil war in Yemen is a humanitarian crisis, and we have no business still being a part of it.”

A member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Murphy introduced the resolution with Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Mike Lee of Utah calling for an end to U.S. military involvement in the Saudi-led civil war in Yemen, which the United Nations says has created a humanitarian crisis in the Arabian Peninsula. It was the first time in history that Congress has turned to the War Powers Resolution on such a matter.

Murphy plans to continue pressing for an end to the conflict that began in 2015.

“I’ve been calling on the United States to get out of the civil war in Yemen for the last four years, and this veto won’t stop me. I’ll keep working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle on next steps, including increased sanctions and arms sales restrictions, to limit our involvement in the Saudi coalition and put pressure on the peace process,” he said.

Overriding the veto would take a two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate, a tall order given significant Republican opposition to the resolution in the House and Senate. In March, the Senate voted 56-41 to end U.S. participation in the war. The House followed in April, voting 247-175 in favor. Those voting against the resolution in both chambers were Republicans.

Murphy has spoken out against the civil war since the conflict began in 2015 saying it has had devastating humanitarian consequences — including the starvation deaths of an estimated 85,000 children — and created a security vacuum that has empowered terrorist groups, like ISIS and al Qaeda, to grow stronger in the region.

Trump argued against the resolution saying the limited support the United States has provided to the Saudi-led coalition has not put U.S. military personnel into hostilities.

“Apart from counterterrorism operations against al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula and ISIS, the United States is not engaged in hostilities in or affecting Yemen,” Trump said. “Since 2015, the United States has provided limited support to member countries of the Saudi-led coalition, including intelligence sharing, logistics support, and, until recently, in-flight refueling of non-United States aircraft.”

Trump said the support is being given to protect the safety of the more than 80,000 Americans who reside in certain coalition countries that have been subject to Houthi attacks from Yemen.

“Houthis, supported by Iran, have used missiles, armed drones, and explosive boats to attack civilian and military targets in those coalition countries, including areas frequented by American citizens, such as the airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. In addition, the conflict in Yemen represents a ‘cheap’ and inexpensive way for Iran to cause trouble for the United States and for our ally, Saudi Arabia,” Trump wrote.

Trump blamed the Senate, in part, for the continued conflict saying his ability to bring about a negotiated settlement to end the conflict has been hindered because key diplomatic personnel are not in place.

“Unfortunately, inaction by the Senate has left vacant key diplomatic positions, impeding our ability to engage regional partners in support of the United Nations-led peace process. To help end the conflict, promote humanitarian and commercial access, prevent civilian casualties, enhance efforts to recover American hostages in Yemen, and defeat terrorists that seek to harm the United States, the Senate must act to confirm my nominees for many critical foreign policy positions,” he said.

Senator Richard Blumenthal, who is a co-sponsor of the resolution, also issued a statement opposing the veto.

“President Trump’s veto is a show of tacit support for U.S. involvement in a devastating humanitarian disaster. Vetoing a bipartisan, bicameral resolution condemning the United States’ complicity in a humanitarian crisis puts President Trump squarely on the wrong side of history. The United States should end its involvement in the Saudi-led war in Yemen that has resulted in widespread misery, famine, disease, and death. U.S. support for this war betrays our values — and our national interests,” he said.