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house Bill H.R. 643

Should U.S. Military Aid and Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia Be Cut Off?

Argument in favor

Jamal Khashoggi’s murder in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul violated international norms, human rights, and international law. The Saudi government needs to be punished for this transgression — and ending U.S. military aid and arms sales will hit them where it hurts.

Kodiwodi's Opinion
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05/04/2019
Without a doubt, I fully support HR643 cutting off all military support and aid to the terroristic country of Saudi Arabia. Sorry Trump, find another retirement program.
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KansasTamale's Opinion
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05/04/2019
Jamal Khashoggi’s murder in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul violated international norms, human rights, and international law. The Saudi government needs to be punished for this transgression and the people they’ve arrested & tried are just fall guys for the Prince & his henchme who were responsible — and ending U.S. military aid and arms sales will hit them where it hurts.
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burrkitty's Opinion
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05/05/2019
For sure! I have a hard time buying off on all the money spending on foreign “terrorists” in Iran when the last deadly action by foreign agents on US soil was primarily composed of SAUDI ARABIANS and essentially it went unpunished. Not to mention that poor journalist killed by SAUDI ARABIA. Again with no repercussions. It is past time that Washington realizes or takes action on the knowledge that Saudi Arabia is not our friend they’re not even our ally. They are just a blood sucking regime that takes our money and weapons and the proceeds to use us to conduct their genocides. It is way past time to end that toxic relationship. We have NO high ground to preach from as long as we support SA.
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Argument opposed

The Saudi government has already arrested multiple people in connection with Khashoggi’s death, and is prosecuting them to the fullest extent of the law. It doesn’t make sense to hold U.S. and Saudi national security interests hostage to a single incident, no matter how horrific.

SneakyPete's Opinion
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05/05/2019
This is attack another attempt by the Democrats on President Trump The Saudi government has already arrested multiple people in connection with Khashoggi’s death, and is prosecuting them to the fullest extent of the law. It doesn’t make sense to hold U.S. and Saudi national security interests hostage to a single incident, no matter how horrific. SneakyPete...... 👎🏻👎🏻👎🏻👎🏻. 5*5*19.....
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Mark's Opinion
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05/05/2019
Why do we elect idiots like this bill sponsor to Congress?
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Gopin2018's Opinion
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05/06/2019
We need Saudi Arabia to counter Iran and its proxies around the globe. It’s not a perfect relationship but it’s better than the alternative. #MAGA
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Foreign Affairs
    IntroducedJanuary 17th, 2019

What is House Bill H.R. 643?

This bill would direct the Defense Secretary to immediately cease U.S. arms sales and other military aid to the Saudi Arabian government. Beginning on the date of this bill’s enactment, the U.S. would stop providing security assistance, intelligence, training, equipment, or services relating to maintenance, testing, or technical data to the Saudi Arabian government and its agents. It’d also stop engaging in defense cooperation with the Saudi government and its agents. There’d be an exception for Dept. of Defense activities related to the protection of U.S. diplomatic and consular posts or personnel, or the evacuation of U.S. citizens.

The U.S. would also immediately cease arms sales to the Saudi government and its agents. The president would be prohibited from selling, transfering, delivering, licensing for exporting, authorizing the performance of services related to, or otherwise making available defense articles, defense services, defense design and construction services.

On a case-by-case basis, the prohibitions in this bill would be waived if: 1) the president submits a request for a specific activity to the appropriate congressional committees, and 2) a joint resolution approving the waiver is enacted.

This bill also requires a report to Congress on:

  • How U.S. defense cooperation with and support of Saudi Arabia’s government serves the U.S. national interest;
  • The status of the U.S. investigation into the people who authorized, ordered, carried out, had knowledge of, or helped cover up Saudi journalist and U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi’s killing, as well as the extent to which each person has been prosecuted or otherwise held accountable for their conduct; and
  • The status of human rights protection, including freedom of the press, in Saudi Arabia.

Impact

U.S.-based defense companies and contractors; arms sales; U.S.-Saudi Arabia defense cooperation; Saudi Arabia; Congress; Saudi Arabia; DOD; the Defense Secretary; and the president.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 643

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthRep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) introduced this bill to immediately stop all military sales and aid to the Saudi Arabian government. In a press release, he said:

"Jamal Khashoggi was murdered in cold blood by the Government of Saudi Arabia. The use of a diplomatic post as a torture chamber is an affront not only to international norms, but to basic human decency. Unfortunately, the Trump Administration refuses to take real action to stand up for our values and hold the Saudi Government accountable. It’s time for the United States to halt all weapons sales and military aid to Saudi Arabia. Our democratic values are on the line here – and we must step up and do the right thing.”

After introducing this bill, Rep. McGovern delivered a speech on the House floor:

“Madam Speaker, I am proud to introduce today H.R. 643, a bipartisan bill to stop all U.S. arms sales and military aid to Saudi Arabia. Madam Speaker, it has been over one hundred days since the Government of Saudi Arabia brutally murdered journalist and U.S. resident Jamal Khoshoggi at the Saudi consulate in Turkey. The Senate unanimously condemned the Saudi government for this heinous crime.  But the House remains silent. It’s past time the House clearly and unambiguously declared that there’s a price to pay for such barbarity. Let it begin by ending all U.S. arms sales and military aid to the Saudi government. I urge all my colleagues to join me and cosponsor H.R. 643.”

On Twitter, Rep. McGovern added that it’d been over 100 days since Khashoggi’s killing, and that the Senate had already unanimously condemned the Saudi government. He added, “Now the House must clearly & unambiguously declare that there’s a price to pay for such barbarity.” Rep. McGovern argues it’s “long past time for the Saudi government to be held accountable” for both Khashoggi’s killing and “numerous other systemic human rights violations.”

President Trump has vowed to remain a steadfast supporter of Saudi Arabia, and argued that the true circumstances surrounding Khashoggi’s murder may never be fully known. In a statemented released by the White House in November 2018, Trump said:

“Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the crown prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn’t! That being said, we may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr Jamal Khashoggi. In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

In response to this statement, Khashoggi’s Washington Post editor, Karen Attiah, strongly condemned the president’s statement on Twitter, writing:

"Trump’s statement on Saudi Arabia + #Khashoggi is full of lies and a blatant disregard for his own intelligence agencies. It also shows an unforgivable disregard for the lives of Saudis who dare criticize the regime. This is a new low."

Saudi Arabian officials have denied the government’s role in Khashoggi’s death. Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir has said that the death, while a “massive tragedy,” was the result of “officials of the Saudi government acting outside their scope of authority.” In an interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” al-Jubeir asserted, “Nobody in Saudi Arabia knew about the murder except the people who did it.

The Saudi government has also indicated that tying Khashoggi’s death to its leadership would be considered a severe affront. On February 12, 2019, the deadline for the Trump administration to deliver a report to Congress on Khashoggi’s killing, the Saudi Foreign Ministry tweeted, “Our leadership is a red line. We warn against any attempt to link Khashoggi’s crime to our leadership.

This bill has 21 bipartisan cosponsors, including 19 Democrats and two Republicans. Rep. McGovern introduced similar legislation in October 2018. When he introduced that bill, H.R. 7070, McGovern said:

“I think the civilized world has to take a stand [after Saudi journalist and U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi’s killing]. This is so brazen, so outrageous, so horrific, that to not take a strong stand would mean that we're turning our back on human rights."

In December 2018, the Senate passed a pair of bills imposing consequences on Saudi Arabia for Khashoggi’s murder. The first ended military support for the Saudi-led coalition fighting Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, and the second called for a diplomatic solution to the Yemen conflict and formally condemned Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for Khashoggi’s murder.


Of NoteJamal Khashoggi was a well-known journalist and critic of the Saudi government. For decades, he was close to the Saudi royal family and served as an advisor to the government.  However, he fell out of favor and went into self-imposed exile in the U.S. in 2017, from where he wrote a monthly column in the Washington Post in which he criticized the policies of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, also known as MBS.

Khashoggi first visited the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on September 28, 2018 to obtain divorce documents to allow him to remarry, but was told to return and arranged to come back on October 2, 2018, when he was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Initially, Saudi officials denied knowledge of Khashoggi’s whereabouts, and MBS told Bloomberg News that he’d left the consulate “after a few minutes or one hour.” Eventually, on October 20, 2018, state television reported that Khashoggi had been murdered in a “rogue operation” on an intelligence officer’s orders. However, Saudi officials’ accounts of what had happened continued to differ. Ultimately, on November 15, 2018, the Saudi public prosecutor said Khashoggi was given a lethal injection after a struggle, and his body was dismembered inside the consulate after his death.

To date, Saudi Arabia has detained 21 Saudi nationals and dismissed two senior officials in connection with the killing. Saudi King Salman has also ordered a restructuring of the intelligence services — to be headed by MBS. So far, 11 people have been charged in connection with Khashoggi’s death, and the prosecutor is seeking the death penalty in five cases, although none of those officially charged have been identified.

After Khashoggi’s killing and the Saudi government’s admission in late October 2018 that the murder was premeditated, the U.S. government has taken “little action” in response. In late 2018, members of Congress triggered the Magnitsky Act, requiring the president to identify the perpetrators of Khashoggi’s murder and submit a report to Congress within 120 days. However, the report that’s resulted from this investigation has been criticized by some as insufficient.

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID) has stated that he’s satisfied with the Trump administration’s probe into Khashoggi’s death, even while several GOP lawmakers have complained that the administration hasn’t complied with a law requiring them to make a determination in the killing. Politico reports:

“Many Senate Republicans widely believe that Khashoggi was killed at the direction of the Saudi kingdom after hearing from top administration officials last year. But President Donald Trump has declined to join them in that determination even though U.S. intelligence reportedly concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing. Though the Magnitsky Act required the administration to respond to a bipartisan request asking them to come to a conclusion, the White House last week declined to meet the deadline to reply. Multiple Senate Republicans said in interviews on Monday night that they were angry about the administration's move to not comply with the law.”

However, Sen. Risch argues that the administration is acting in good faith to investigate Khashoggi’s death:

"We have had numerous briefings and meetings with the administration where we put the information together that we have, that they had, and like I say it's a work in progress. They've been very forthcoming with us ... they're working in good faith to reach a conclusion on this with some direct evidence."

Foreign Relations ranking member Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) disputes Sen. Risch’s assertion, saying that the response the State Dept. transmitted to Congress fell well short of the obligations under the Magnitsky Act:

“The Administration failed to meet its legal requirement to make a determination of responsibility for this heinous murder and report to Congress. I am very disappointed that the response from Secretary Pompeo doesn’t come close to fulfilling the statutory mandate and demonstrates what the administration has wanted all along — the Khashoggi murder to be forgotten. I will continue to push for the President to fully hold accountable those responsible for the death of Mr. Khashoggi and to uphold United States laws.”


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / Sergio Lacueva)

AKA

To prohibit the provision of United States security assistance to the Government of Saudi Arabia, and for other purposes.

Official Title

To prohibit the provision of United States security assistance to the Government of Saudi Arabia, and for other purposes.

    Without a doubt, I fully support HR643 cutting off all military support and aid to the terroristic country of Saudi Arabia. Sorry Trump, find another retirement program.
    Like (141)
    Follow
    Share
    This is attack another attempt by the Democrats on President Trump The Saudi government has already arrested multiple people in connection with Khashoggi’s death, and is prosecuting them to the fullest extent of the law. It doesn’t make sense to hold U.S. and Saudi national security interests hostage to a single incident, no matter how horrific. SneakyPete...... 👎🏻👎🏻👎🏻👎🏻. 5*5*19.....
    Like (23)
    Follow
    Share
    Jamal Khashoggi’s murder in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul violated international norms, human rights, and international law. The Saudi government needs to be punished for this transgression and the people they’ve arrested & tried are just fall guys for the Prince & his henchme who were responsible — and ending U.S. military aid and arms sales will hit them where it hurts.
    Like (94)
    Follow
    Share
    For sure! I have a hard time buying off on all the money spending on foreign “terrorists” in Iran when the last deadly action by foreign agents on US soil was primarily composed of SAUDI ARABIANS and essentially it went unpunished. Not to mention that poor journalist killed by SAUDI ARABIA. Again with no repercussions. It is past time that Washington realizes or takes action on the knowledge that Saudi Arabia is not our friend they’re not even our ally. They are just a blood sucking regime that takes our money and weapons and the proceeds to use us to conduct their genocides. It is way past time to end that toxic relationship. We have NO high ground to preach from as long as we support SA.
    Like (76)
    Follow
    Share
    Saudi Arabia supplied most of the terrorists that attacked us on 9/11. They murdered an American affiliated journalist. They are committing war crimes in Yemen. Continuing to supply them with military weapons and aid further underscores our moral failure as a nation.
    Like (59)
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    When people start talking about cutting off aid to Saudi Arabia they let their love of money in oil outweigh their judgment of what’s right and what’s wrong. The Saudi‘s are murdering animals. They’ve held their people down for years, women just now got the right to drive a car. Can you even imagine that. There are nation that lives in the 1300s. The trumps have deep ties financially with them that’s why you see Jared Kushner over there kissing up as much as he possibly can. It’s time to cut ties with these animals and do what’s right. Did anybody forget that not long ago they murdered a journalist!
    Like (44)
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    We should not be arming Israel nor Saudi Arabia for their genocidal killing sprees. We must be better than constant murder.
    Like (38)
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    The actions of the Saudi regime are reprehensible and inexcusable. We should in no way support the goals of that administration.
    Like (35)
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    The government should not be an arms dealer and should not be taking our money to arm foreign governments.
    Like (32)
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    Especially after OUR BOMBS, LAST AUGUST (corrected the date) HIT AND KILLED A BUS LOADED WITH CHILDREN - 40, TO BE EXACT - IN YEMEN! We should be so proud. Right, you righteous Christians? Whatever Piggy wants. You sure see that Piggy gets. Their deaths are on YOU. KEEP UP THE BAD WORK! God will, surely, reward you for that. These days, hell’s reservations are filling up fast! P.S. ( I’m sure there’ve been many more atrocities committed since then!)
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    Saudi Arabia is one of the most oppressive authoritarian regimes on Earth that violates human rights on a daily basis and is committing war crimes in Yemen. This is all in addition to the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi. They shouldn’t be even close to being an ally of ours. It’s ridiculous that Congress is just waking up to this now, but of course the corrupting influence of their oil is a huge incentive to keep them close.
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    9/11 Never Forget.
    Like (20)
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    Selling arms to a country like Saudi Arabia, who represses its people and tortures and kills their enemies, is horrible and immoral. It seems the only reason we do it is to enrich those in the arms business and to protect oil interests. We seem to have traded our morals for money, which is a sad commentary about us.
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    This is a no brainer. How can we call other countries terrorists and not call these people what they are murderers! I don’t know what number 45 is getting from the Saudi prince but whatever it is it is not worth it and all of the GOP senators need to get on board with stopping arms sales. The fact that the majority of GOP senators still support this man boggles my mind. Remember it is not about the economy at this point. It is about the lying and cheating and loss of respect for our country worldwide.
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    Why do we elect idiots like this bill sponsor to Congress?
    Like (15)
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    Yes! Working Americans are sick of paying for endless war and the destruction and displacement of millions of poor people of color whose only sin is to live in the path of Saudi and US corporate greed!
    Like (15)
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    YES. We keep telling you this; you keep on ignoring us. Your greed seems to outweigh your sense.
    Like (14)
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    We are aiding a genocide in Yemen . How we can sit back and allow them disgusting atrocity to go on is antithetical to the values this country holds firm.
    Like (13)
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    There definitely is a conflict with Saudi Arabia and Donald Trump and Jared Kushner - we need to know more of what they have been saying and doing with Crown Prince, who has taken charge of government and I am sure had the journalist brutally murdered!
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    This is the country that the 9/11 terrorists came from. Saudi Arabia is a very wealthy country. They don’t need our tax dollars to exist. This is just Trumps way of selling out the USA .
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