Congress Directs Trump to Withdraw US Troops From Yemen
Congress is taking a stand on U.S. involvement in Yemen but the White House is threatening a veto.
Federal lawmakers passed a resolution in the House directing U.S. President Trump to withdraw troops from the ongoing Yemen War. The United States is involved in a coalition effort led by Saudi Arabia to rout Houthi rebels from Yemen, despite lack of any Congressional approval. The actual extent of the U.S. troops’ involvement in the Yemen War is in debate, as the White House claims the House directive is ordering them to withdraw troops that are simply not there.
“As the Department of Defense has repeatedly confirmed, U.S. armed forces are not engaged in hostilities against the Houthi forces in Yemen,” Representative Michael McCaul, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said. “This resolution is directing us to remove troops that simply are not there.”
The measure passed by the House provides for the removal of U.S. troops fighting in the Saudi-led coalition, but not those fighting directly against al-Qaeda and ISIS. The White House insists U.S. troops are only aiding Saudi Arabia in the Yemen War by providing intelligence and logistical support.
Rep. Ro Khanna of California who led the Democrats in bringing the resolution said the measure will help bring about an end to an unjust war.
“The only patriotic thing, if you care about our troops, if you care about American interests, if you care about the outrage that the Saudis are inflicting on Americans and on the world, the only patriotic thing to do is to vote for this resolution,” Khanna said on the House floor Wednesday.
The measure could also help Congress reign in the President’s power to deploy troops into war-time situations without ever getting the approval of Congress.
According to the War Powers Resolution passed in 1973, only Congress has the power to declare war. The U.S. President can send troops abroad in a national emergency but the President is required to notify Congress within 48 hours and forbids armed forces from staying abroad for more than 60 days, without Congressional approval.
The resolution cleared the House with a 248-177 vote and is now headed to the Senate for approval. In 2018, the Senate similarly passed a related resolution.
As soon as Congress approves the measure, the Trump administration has 90 days to comply and to submit a report revealing the potential risks of withdrawing U.S. troops from the Yemeni conflict.
But the Trump administration has kicked back, threatening to veto the resolution. The White House said withdrawing the troops will sour U.S. relationships with its allies as well as defeat the country’s counter-terrorism campaigns.
“Our continued cooperation with regional partner nations allows the United States to support diplomatic negotiations to end the conflict, promote humanitarian access, mitigate civilian casualties, enhance efforts to recover United States hostages in Yemen and defeat terrorists who seek to harm the United States,” the White House said in the statement.
Meanwhile, several Republicans within the Trump government voiced concerns that removing the troops would set a bad precedent for U.S. involvement in foreign conflicts. But Rep. Eliot Engel said this is not the case since this resolution only addresses the issues surrounding the Yemeni war.
In a case where President Trump vetos the resolution, a two-thirds vote from the House and Senate will empower the Congress to override the veto action.