US Senate Narrowly Approves Sale of Precision-Guided Missiles to Saudi Arabia

13 June 2017 – Today, the United States Senate narrowly voted to approve the sale of more than $500 million of precision-guided missiles (PGM) to Saudi Arabia, with a final vote of 53 – 47 against a resolution to block the sale. The approval of the sale indicates the United States will continue to materially support the Saudi bombing campaign in Yemen. Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) applauds the strong show of Congressional disapproval for the sale, however we strongly condemn Congress’ ultimate refusal to move forward in blocking the sale.

The $500 million PGM package is a portion of the recently announced foreign military sale to Saudi Arabia that would amount to $110 billion, although the entire deal has not been confirmed. This package consists of approximately 16,000 guided munitions kits, which would upgrade “dumb” bombs to “smart” bombs and ostensibly improve the accuracy of the armaments. These kits had been put on hold by President Obama over concerns that the weapons would neither help the accuracy of Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners in Yemen, nor halt the coalition’s attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure.

President Donald Trump announced the revival of the deal after meeting Saudi Arabia’s King Salman during his trip to Saudi Arabia in May, amid a tightening of connections between the two countries. However, the arms deal met opposition in the Senate. Led by Senators Chris Murphy (D-CN), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Al Franken (D-MN), 47 senators today voted in support of a resolution to voice disapproval of a sale. While their vote of disapproval ultimately fell four votes short of the needed majority, it gathered more support than the previous vote of disapproval concerning a US arms sale to Saudi Arabia. In September 2016, 27 Senators voted in disapproval of a $1.5 billion tank sale to the kingdom, falling far short of the necessary numbers.

“Today’s vote shows that Congress has increasingly greater concerns about US complicity in Saudi Arabia’s brutal bombing campaign in Yemen. The Administration has been put on notice that Congress and the American people will not stand by as their government continues to assist Saudi Arabia in killing Yemeni civilians. We applaud the Senators today for their hard work and determination in voicing their disapproval to the PGM sale,” states Husain Abdulla, Executive Director of ADHRB. “But even as we have made progress, we remain disappointed with Congress’ willingness to allow the sale to go forward. These weapons will only further contribute to the ongoing bloodshed.”

ADHRB remains steadfastly opposed to the violence in Yemen and calls on Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners to immediately halt all airstrikes that result in the death of civilians and the destruction of civilian infrastructure. The only way for the conflict to be resolved is to reach a sustainable peace agreement, and Saudi Arabia’s current military actions do not contribute to a peaceful resolution. Congress must take serious action to end US involvement with, and support for, Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen.


To see a full list of the roll call vote, please click here.