The Trump administration is considering ending the process of giving Congress informal notification about pending arms sales:
While congressional aides were not surprised by the proposed move, which they said the Trump administration has been considering as far back as two years, a decision to end the informal consultation would be seen as a major slight to Capitol Hill’s oversight authority.
“That would be viewed as going nuclear,” said Juan Pachón, the communications director for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s top Democrat, Sen. Bob Menendez.
Arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE have become a point of contention between Congress and the administration because the president is determined to evade Congressional oversight in order to keep the weapons flowing to the war criminals in Riyadh and Abu Dhabi. Last year, the administration abused a provision in the Arms Exports Control Act to declare an “emergency” that didn’t exist in order to expedite arms sales that most members of Congress wanted to block. The bogus emergency declaration led to the passage of several Congressional resolutionsdisapproving of the arms sales, and then the president vetoed those resolutions. That bogus emergency declaration has since become the subject of investigation by Steve Linick, the State Department’s Inspector General, who was then fired at Secretary Pompeo’s urging earlier this year.
Now the administration is considering another way of restricting Congress’ role in overseeing arms sales. Note that this isn’t happening because Congress is blocking arms sales for frivolous or purely partisan reasons, but because the weapons being solid to these governments are used to commit war crimes against civilians in Yemen. Congress is rightly challenging a monstrous policy of arming war criminals, and the president is looking for every loophole he can find to make sure that the war criminals get the weapons. Both houses of Congress have voted more than once to end U.S. involvement in the war on Yemen, and Trump has stubbornly refused to halt our government’s shameful support for the Saudi coalition. Taking away informal Congressional notification of pending sales is an attempt to destroy Congress’ influence over arms sales in general and the US government’s support for the war on Yemen in particular.