US Senate committee backs Saudi sanctions measure
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US Senate committee backs Saudi sanctions measure

The committee voted on Thursday 13-9, with three Republicans aligning with Democrats in the committee in backing the measure despite expected opposition from Trump.   To become law, the legislation must still pass the whole Senate, as well as the US House of Representatives and either be signed by Trump or gather the two-thirds majorities in both chambers of Congress to override a veto.   Historically, Congress has overridden fewer than ten percent of all presidential vetoes.   The measure was co-sponsored by Senator Bob Menendez, the top Democrat in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as well as Republican Senators Lindsey Graham and Todd Young.   The committee’s chairman, Republican Senator Jim Risch, opposed the bill, saying he wanted legislation to hold Riyadh accountable but argued that there was no point in passing a bill that Trump would veto.   On Wednesday, Trump vetoed three congressional resolutions barring billions of dollars in weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which have been committing war crimes in Yemen for over four years.   In a statement released by the White House, Trump argued that the bills would “weaken America’s global competitiveness and damage the important relationships we share with our allies and partners.”   Many members of Congress have sought to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for its human rights abuses, including last year’s murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul, Turkey, as well as the Saudi-led war in Yemen, which has led to a humanitarian catastrophe.   Leading a coalition of its allies, Saudi Arabia invaded Yemen in March 2015 in an attempt to reinstall the former regime, which had been friendly to Riyadh, but whose officials fled the country.   The aggression is estimated to have left 56,000 Yemenis dead and has taken a heavy toll on the country’s infrastructure, destroying hospitals, schools, and factories.   The UN has said that a record 22.2 million Yemenis are in dire need of food, including 8.4 million threatened by severe hunger. According to the world body, Yemen is suffering from the most severe famine in more than 100 years.  

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