This week Donald Trump vetoed a group of congressional resolutions that were aimed at blocking his administration from selling billions of dollars of weapons to Saudi Arabia as well as the United Arab Emirates. The sales would bring in an estimated $8.1 billion.
The arms sales add even more tension between the U.S. and Iran because Saudi Arabia is an enemy of Iran.
Trump made the decision to make the arms deals back in May. He decided to make the deal by bypassing a congressional review, which infuriated lawmakers. In a rare move, Democrats and Republicans banded together to pass a resolution to block the arms sales.
The White House argued that stopping the sale would send a signal that the US did not stand by its allies. The arms deal includes thousands of precision-guided munitions, other bombs and ammunition, and aircraft maintenance support.
A great amount of anger has been mounting in Congress over the Trump administration’s close ties to the Saudis. That anger has been fuelled by the high civilian casualties in the Saudi-led war in Yemen and the killing of US-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents.
“The president’s shameful veto tramples over the will of the bipartisan, bicameral Congress and perpetuates his administration’s involvement in the horrific conflict in Yemen, which is a stain on the conscience of the world,” the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, said in a statement.
It did not appear that lawmakers opposed to the sale had enough votes to override Trump’s veto.
The effort to block the arms deals was led by New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate foreign relations committee. He had the support of two of Trump’s GOP allies in Congress: Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Rand Paul of Kentucky.
Back in June members of the House foreign affairs committee grilled state department officials about the sale. Eliot Engel, a Democrat representative of New York, said it was a “slap in the face” to Congress and accused the Trump administration of using threats from Iran as a “convenient excuse” to push through the sale.
In a statement, Engel said: “The president’s veto sends a grim message that America’s foreign policy is no longer rooted in our core values – namely a respect for human rights – and that he views Congress not as a co-equal branch of government, but an irritant to be avoided or ignored.”