Senators of both parties are coalescing around opposition to continuing arms trade with the Saudis, prepping a resolution of disapproval next time the deal comes up and using legislative maneuvering to push off the deal in the meantime.
According to a Thursday Politico report, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CN) is readying a resolution of disapproval next time the arms deal is introduced. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has reportedly been his partner in the effort, and though the two failed to block arms trade with the Saudis last year, Murphy thinks that political will has changed in light of Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance and possible murder in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also has been maintaining an “informal hold” on parts of the Saudi arms deal, kicking the can down the road. He said he plans to keep the hold as long as possible.
Sen. Lindsey Graham took to CNN Thursday evening to warn that “everything would be on the table” if in fact the Saudis murdered Khashoggi.
“With every passing day it looks increasingly likely that he’s dead and the most logical explanation is that he went into the consulate and he never came out and the Saudis had something to do with it,” Graham told CNN’s Kate Bolduan. “All the indicators point to Saudi Arabia, and if it turns out to be Saudi Arabia, as I’ve said before, there’ll be hell to pay.”
“When it comes to dealing with this, count me all in to being as hard as possible,” he added. “I think there will be a bipartisan tsunami coming against Saudi Arabia.”
On Wednesday, a bipartisan coalition of senators wrote to President Donald Trump, demanding an investigation of Khashoggi’s disappearance and the imposition of sanctions if the Saudis are found responsible.
Trump has been reluctant to play hardball with the Saudis, claiming economic reasons for not wanting to cut off the arms sales. However, his and his son-in-law Jared Kushner’s close personal relationships with the Saudi crown prince also likely contribute to his hesitation.