Peace Action’s Senior Director for Policy and Political Affairs called it a grotesque irony when the House of Representatives led by Republicans attached a completely unrelated farm bill, to the bill seeking to end all U.S. involvement in the war in Yemen. This move led by Paul Ryan lacks dignity, morals, and awareness of the facts before his eyes.
There are 28 million people in Yemen, and 14 million of them are in dire need of humanitarian aid, north of 50 thousand are dead, and 85 thousand children under 5 have died from hunger. Humanitarian aid agencies have been warning the masses for well over a year that famine could break out across the country unlike the world has seen in 100 years, yet the United States and European nations continue to supply the Saudis with arms while millions starve in Yemen.
At no point during the war in Yemen has Saudi Arabia taken human rights into context. It’s baffling why anyone wouldn’t expect that Saudi Arabia would commit human rights violations in Yemen when this is a country that still sentences its own citizens to public lashings, hangings, and stonings among a plethora of other human rights violations.
Republican leaders in the House used a farm bill that ensures Americans are fed to derail a vote on ending all U.S. participation in the war in Yemen as millions are being bombed and blockaded into mass starvation. According to Save The Children there are 85 thousand children under the age of five are at risk of dying from starvation in Yemen and lawmakers still cannot find the decency to stop sending arms to Saudi Arabia.
Republican leaders were ultimately successful in blocking a vote on the war in Yemen in the House of Representative until a new Congress takes over in January. Marwan Al-Sabri, a 32-year old water and sanitation officer from Taiz Yemen stated: “We already know that the shelling kills people, but I am seeing what a broken economy does too. People have been left so desperately poor that they kill themselves before the hunger does.”
The Senate Joint Resolution 54 invoked the War Powers Act to end all U.S. involvement in the war in Yemen, arguing that Congress never voted to go to war in Yemen, and passed the Republican-led Senate but failed in the Democrat-controlled House. We can blame Paul Ryan for derailing the vote on Yemen, but he didn’t stop the Yemen bill himself; he had help from Democrats in the House.
Democrats Jim Costa, Al Lawson, Collin Peterson, Dutch Rupperberger and David Scott all voted to block a vote on the war in Yemen. The Yemen bill was blocked by a 206-203 vote, which means if just 3 of the Democrats that voted to block a vote on Yemen, voted instead for the Yemen bill then it would have passed the House of Representatives as well.
Sadly, this debacle is being viewed through the two-party lens with one party blaming the other when it is really the fault of both Democrats and the Republicans and their incompetence to legislate. While the citizens of Yemen wait for lawmakers in the United States to get their act together thousands will likely die in the meantime. Please do not stop contacting your state leaders and demand an end to any and all U.S. involvement in the war in Yemen.