If there is still anything—anything—that can stimulate a bit of fleeting, begrudging bipartisanship between Democrats and Republicans in the Senate, it is Team Trump’s incessant efforts to strip the Senate of the few remaining powers the Senate still pretends to have. Approving arms deals is one of those Senate powers, or was; when the Senate began to get cold feet at the notion of providing the weapons that Saudi Arabia has been using to decimate an already-decimated Yemen, Trump responded by declaring a new “national emergency” allowing him to provide aid without congressional oversight under the premise of a new existential Iranian threat (and vetoed a Senate-passed bill explicitly cutting off that aid).
A bipartisan set of senators will be giving it another go with a new bill to block future military aid to Saudi Arabia and to nix Trump’s current arms deal. It is led by Republican Indiana Sen. Todd Young and Democratic Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy.
Murphy said the administration “has effectively given a blank check to the Saudis — turning a blind eye to the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi and allowing their ballistic missile program to expand,” and added: “Congress needs to change how we do business with the Kingdom.”
The question, of course, is whether the Senate can muster sufficient support to override an assured Trump veto attempt. Seven Republicans joined the last effort to block Saudi military aid, well short of the two-thirds majority necessary for an override. It’s likely that at least that many will join this new effort, but the vast majority of Republican senators continue to steadfastly support whatever the bizarre and impulsive Trump maneuvers our government into. It’s not clear even a brazen Trump effort to nullify their own powers is enough to spur those senators to action.