WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday approved a resolution that would end U.S. support for the Saudi Arabia-led coalition in the war in Yemen, as many lawmakers sought to push President Donald Trump to toughen his policy towards the kingdom.
It was the first time the House of Representatives has ever supported a war powers resolution, but the 248-177 vote - almost entirely along party lines - would not be enough, however, to overcome Trump’s promise to issue what would likely be his first veto.
Only 18 of Trump’s fellow Republicans in the House joined 230 Democrats in supporting the resolution seeking to stop the U.S. military from any hostilities in or affecting Yemen, including refuelling aircraft conducting missions in the Yemen civil war, without authorization from Congress.
Democrats and Republicans reintroduced the war powers resolution two weeks ago as a way to send a strong message to Riyadh about the humanitarian disaster in Yemen and condemn the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Yemen’s almost four-year war has killed tens of thousands of people, collapsed the economy and brought millions of people to the brink of famine.
The administration - and many of Trump’s fellow Republicans in Congress - said the resolution was inappropriate because U.S. forces had provided aircraft refuelling and other support in the Yemen conflict, not combat troops. It also said the measure would harm relationships in the region and hurt the U.S. ability to prevent the spread of violent extremism.
The Senate is expected to vote on the resolution within 30 days.
A previous version of the resolution passed the Senate by 56-41 in December. But it was not brought up for a vote in the House, where Republicans held a majority until Democrats took control on Jan. 3, following sweeping victories in November’s elections.
The United States has supported the Saudi-led air campaign against Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen with mid-air refuelling support, intelligence and targeting assistance.
December’s Senate vote was the first time either chamber of Congress backed a resolution to withdraw U.S. forces from a military engagement under the War Powers Act. That law, passed in 1973, limits the president’s ability to commit U.S. forces to potential hostilities without congressional approval.
Reporting by Patricia Zengerle in Washington; Editing by Peter Cooney and James Dalgleish