President Donald Trump has rejected a resolution from the Congress to end the 4-year old Yemen war which has killed tens of thousands of people and spawned what the United Nations calls the world's most dire humanitarian crisis, with the country on the brink of famine.
The resolution passed the House of Representatives in April and the Senate in March, marking the first time both chambers of Congress had supported a War Powers resolution, which limits the president's ability to send troops into action.
Trump wrote explaining why he issued the veto: "This resolution is an unnecessary, dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities, endangering the lives of American citizens and brave service members, both today and in the future."
The president also argued the resolution would "harm the foreign policy of the United States" and "harm our bilateral relationships."
"Peace in Yemen requires a negotiated settlement," the president said. He also highlighted that the US was not actively engaged in hostilities, except against al-Qaeda extremists.
The move marked the second time that Trump has used his veto power to reject a bill from the legislature. To override the president's veto, the resolution would need a two-thirds majority, which it currently does not have in the deeply divided Congress.
The resolution's approval in both the House of Representatives and the Senate had been seen as a historic milestone already, as it was the first time that a bill invoking the 1973 War Powers Resolution reached the president's desk.
Trump issued his first veto last month on legislation related to immigration. Trump had declared a national emergency so he could use more money to construct a border wall. Congress voted to block the emergency declaration and Trump vetoed that measure.
President Trump also said that the measure would harm bilateral relations and interferes with his constitutional power as commander in chief.He said the U.S. is providing the support to protect the safety of more than 80,000 Americans who live in certain areas of the coalition countries subject to Houthi attacks from Yemen.
"Houthis, supported by Iran, have used missiles, armed drones and explosive boats to attack civilian and military targets in those coalition countries, including areas frequented by American citizens, such as the airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia," Trump said. "In addition, the conflict in Yemen represents a 'cheap' and inexpensive way for Iran to cause trouble for the United States and for our ally, Saudi Arabia."
Tellingly, President Trump's veto on Saudi-led war in Yemen came as Princess Reema Bint Bandar Bin Sultan, who took oath of office as the Kingdom's first female ambassador to the US. Princess Reema is the daughter of Prince Bandar bin Sultan, who was Saudi ambassador from 1983 to 2005.
Not surprisingly, United Arab Emirates Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash swiftly welcomed Trump's veto. "President Trump's assertion of support to the Arab Coalition in Yemen is a positive signal," Gargash said on Twitter. The decision is both "timely and strategic" he added. The UAE is the Saudi Arabia's principal ally in the coalition.
Ro Khanna: Trump was risking the lives of millions: Democratic Congressman Ro Khanna, sponsor of the resolution, said Trump was "risking the lives of millions of Yemeni civilians to famine, deadly airstrikes, and the war crimes of the Saudi regime."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a statement saying: "The conflict in Yemen is a horrific humanitarian crisis that challenges the conscience of the entire world. Yet the President has cynically chosen to contravene a bipartisan, bicameral vote of the Congress and perpetuate America's shameful involvement in this heartbreaking crisis."
Pelosi added: "This conflict must end, now. The House of Representatives calls on the President to put peace before politics, and work with us to advance an enduring solution to end this crisis and save lives."
International Rescue Committee president and CEO David Miliband said that vetoing the measure represents an "effective green light for the war strategy that has created the world's worst humanitarian crisis to continue."