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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
      House Committee on Foreign Affairs
    IntroducedOctober 23rd, 2018

What is it?

This bill would prohibit arms sales and the provision of U.S. security assistance to the government of Saudi Arabia. On a case-by-case basis, both of these bans could be waived if the president submitted requests to the appropriate Congressional committees, which Congress would then need to approve by passing a joint resolution.

Waiver requests would be accompanied by reports informing Congress of how such aid or sales advances U.S. national security and defense interests; the status of the investigation and bringing to justice of those responsible for U.S. journalist and resident Jamal Khashoggi’s death; and a description of the state of human rights, including freedom of the press, in Saudi Arabia.

Impact

U.S. arms manufacturers; Saudi Arabia; Congress; and the president.

Cost

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthRep. James McGovern (D-MA) introduced this bill to prohibit all military sales and aid to the Saudi government due to its role in the death of U.S. journalist Jamal Khashoggi:

“It is now clear that Jamal Khashoggi was murdered in the Saudi Consulate. The use of a diplomatic post as a torture chamber is an affront not only to international norms, but to basic human decency. And the inconsistent and implausible explanations put forth by the Saudi Government make absolutely no sense and defy credibility. Under both Democratic and Republican Administrations, I’ve called for a serious review of our arms sales to the Saudi government. With the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, 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 need to step up as a country and do the right thing.”

In an op-ed in The Washington Post, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wrote that the order to kill Khashoggi came from the highest levels of the Saudi government, and called on the international community to reveal the identities of the puppet masters. Similarly, the Justice for Jamal campaign, which is dedicated to bringing those responsible for Khashoggi’s death to justice, has called for the Trump administration to work with Turkish authorities to help find Khashoggi’s body and put pressure on the Saudi government.

President Trump, discussing the Saudi government’s role in Khashoggi’s death, said:

“They had a very bad original concept. It was carried out poorly, and the cover-up was one of the worst cover-ups in the history of cover-ups. Somebody really messed up, and they had the worst cover-up ever.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that a move to revoke visas or U.S. entry ineligibility from 21 “Saudi suspects” was just a “first step,” and that “these penalties will not be the last word on [Khashoggi’s death].” Secretary Pompeo added:

“[The administration] will continue to hold those responsible accountable. We’re making very clear that the United States does not tolerate this kind of ruthless action to silence Mr. Khashoggi, a journalist, with violence. Neither the president or I am happy with this situation.”

However, Secretary Pompeo stressed the strategic importance of the U.S.-Saudi relationship, likely indicating that this legislation would be opposed by the administration. He stated, “we continue to view as achievable the twin imperative of protecting America and holding accountable those responsible for the killing of Mr. Khashoggi.”

Secretary Pompeo’s view was supported by a “60 Minutes” interview in which President Trump said that he wants to continue selling arms to Saudi Arabia to protect U.S. jobs. President Trump declared, “I don’t want to lose an order like that” in reference to the Saudi Arabia arms deal. In a roundtable discussion with defense executives after Saudi Arabia’s role in Khashoggi’s killing was confirmed, President Trump continued to refuse to back down on arms deals with Saudi Arabia:

“Probably the people around this table have the vast percentage of the $110 billion order from Saudi. Almost 100 percent of it would be sitting right around this table… “I don’t want to look over and tell Marillyn [Hewson, CEO of Lockheed Martin] or Dennis [Muilenburg, CEO of Boeing], ‘By the way, we’re going to take $25 billion worth of sales away from you.’ because that would mean a lot of jobs. ”

A number of large U.S. defense companies, including BoeingLockheed Martin, and Raytheon, are heavily reliant on sales to the Saudi Arabian government. These companies have been largely quiet in the aftermath of Khashoggi’s death. In an investor call on October 23, Lockheed’s CEO, Marillyn Hewson, explained to investors to Lockheed would refer to the U.S. government’s decisions regarding relations with Saudi Arabia. However, she didn’t take an explicit position on calls for the U.S. to end arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

Bruce Riedel, senior fellow at the Brooks Institution, argues that putting pressure on Saudi Arabia isn’t well-served by ending arms deals. Instead, he contends that the U.S. should squeeze the Saudi government for spare parts and maintenance:

“"It's not clear that the Saudis have ever been serious about (the) THAAD (arms deal). They have been considering it for years… The United States has much more leverage than Saudi Arabia. Without American support the Saudi military would be inoperative. If Washington wants answers from Riyadh [it should] squeeze the spare parts and maintenance lifeline.”

Analysts who follow the U.S.-Saudi relationship don’t expect a long-term disruption to the relationship, despite the escalating rhetoric. Jon B. Alterman, director of the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., notes that Saudi Arabia remained an important regional partner for the U.S. even after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which were largely perpetrated by Saudis:

“Congress will have a debate about [the Khashoggi case], and Congress will place some holds and restrictions [on Saudi Arabia]. I can’t imagine that Congress will sever military ties or any other kind of ties with Saudi Arabia. This is intended to put pressure and get answers, but not to destroy the bilateral relationship.”

This bill has the support of 26 cosponsors, including 23 Democrats and three Republicans.


Of NoteOn October 19, 2018, the Saudi government admitted that Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S. journalist and U.S. permanent resident, died on the premises of the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, ostensibly from a fist-fight. This led Saudi authorities to fire several intelligence officers and arrest others. Riyadh has blamed a “rogue operation” for Khashoggi’s killing; however, many have raised questions about Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s role in his death. Turkish officials, who have been investigating Khashoggi’s death, say he was killed and dismembered in a premeditated attack.

Saudi purchases of U.S. military equipment are significant: since the 1950s, the Saudi government has spent nearly $90 billion on weapons systems from U.S. defense contractors.

On October 11, 2018, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced a Senate bill to prohibit military aid to Saudi Arabia until the Secretary of State determined that Khashoggi was alive and free.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / Enes Evren)

Official Title

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

    We should have cut arms sales to Saudi Arabia long ago. Let’s invest in wind and solar powers and wean ourselves off their oil.
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    When you discipline a child when they’ve done wrong, do you completely cut them off from your love and support or do you identify their wrong and teach them in the way they should go? Saudi Arabia has been a major asset to our nations foreign affairs and its important that we keep our relationship with them. Businesses like Boeing will suffer, tensions will rise, and we would be turning our backs on a nation that supported us after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Our tactic can’t be to turn our back on everyone who does us wrong.
    Like (34)
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    We should cut off selling arms to everyone, but specifically SA for sure. Also, Saudi Arabia is not a child and that analogy is stupid. Saudi Arabia was the site of several ancient cultures and civilizations. The prehistory of Saudi Arabia shows some of the earliest traces of human activity in the world. The USA is the child in that context. So can we please make it illegal to sell the USA’s military technology and supplies outside the USA? We shouldn’t be arming our enemies anyway. The warmongering must stop.
    Like (123)
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    For the love of all that is good and holy YES. BREAK THE CONNECTION. Cut off ties with the Saudis. We gain nothing, but we are sacrificing all sense of morality by involving ourselves in their atrocities. And lest we forget, the 9/11 hijackers were not Iranian - they were Saudis. Our partnership with them in committing human rights violations is completely unjustifiable. CUT EM LOOSE.
    Like (111)
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    Why are we even in the business of arms sales? In the past, we’ve had them used against us in the long run🙃
    Like (76)
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    Yes, they should cut off arms sales, impose more sanctions on the entire royal family. It's ludicrous to think that the prince had nothing to do with this brutal murder. However, given the fact that the moron in the White House has ties to the family and has businesses in Saudi Arabia, I fear he won't do a damn thing to hold the royal family accountable. So, in essence the prince will get away with murder, while 5 people involved are facing death. INJUSTICE ABOUNDS IN SAUDI ARABIA AS WELL AS IN THE WHITE HOUSE.
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    I think generally we should stop supporting genocides. Our arms industry taking a financial hit is not worth the lives of hundreds of thousands, the bombing of highways to block food/medical aid, the bombing of Doctors Without Borders sites and countless other human rights violations.
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    Our government should not be in the business of selling weapons in the first place.
    Like (49)
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    We, the United States of America, should stop all arms sales everywhere. Let’s work for mankind not profits. Just 3% of the US military budget could end world hunger. Why don’t we do that?
    Like (41)
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    It makes me wonder why we sell arms around the world. Sometimes I think it’s because when we arm the others around the world it makes it look like we need to re-arm our military. Kind of like a perpetual cash cow using tax dollars.
    Like (39)
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    I think we should stand up against murder.
    Like (36)
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    The Jamal Khashoggi killing represents a major violation of international norms. It’s important that the U.S. halt weapons sales and military aid to Saudi Arabia in order to send a strong message condemning Khashoggi’s killing and standing up for press freedom and human rights.
    Like (33)
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    If we continue to support regimes who have no respect for human life either in their own country or countries like Yemen, then we become complicit in all those deaths. We need to stand for justice.
    Like (31)
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    Investigate Trumps financial ties to Saudi Arabia.
    Like (25)
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    I will take a saying out of Donald Trump's playbook. That's a really stupid question. You don't reward people for doing bad stuff. But then of course we rewarded Trump the office of president for being a misogynistic bully.
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    We should have done that a long time ago. It’s only a matter of time til those weapons are pointed at us. Have we learned nothing over the past 70 years? In the 1930’s we gave aid to Germany to fight communism. Aid to Taliban to fight USSR, aid to Iraq to fight Iran. The only reason to sell weapon is to line the pockets of defense contractors.
    Like (23)
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    Stop supporting this murderous regime!
    Like (21)
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    Aren’t these the same people that were overwhelmingly in on 911? Why feed this country weapons so they can starve Yemen? This government only cares about the money and then pretend to hurt so bad if a woman chooses her right to abortion. I’m not advocating killings of any kind, but selling weapons to murderers is like offering Richard Speck a knife and nurses.
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    This murder must have accountability. It was premeditated and brutal. It goes to the highest level of the Saudi Arabian government, the crown prince. He has continually shown his disregard for norms. This is and will continue. When you sleep with the dogs you get fleas. Stand up for humanity and democracy. No to the arms sales.
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    It shouldn’t always be about money, morals should outweigh this decision.
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