Donald Trump issues veto -- second of presidency -- on bill to end U.S. involvement in Yemen war

April 17, 2019

President Trump vetoed a congressional resolution Tuesday night calling for an end of U.S. involvement in the Saudi-led war in Yemen, calling the measure “an unnecessary, dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities.”

In issuing the second veto of his presidency, Mr. Trump said the congressional action would be “endangering the lives of American citizens and brave service members, both today and in the future.”

The president said U.S. forces are not engaged in hostilities “in or affecting Yemen” apart from counterterrorism operations against al Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula and the Islamic State.

“There are no United States military personnel in Yemen commanding, participating in, or accompanying military forces of the Saudi‑led coalition against the Houthis in hostilities in or affecting Yemen,” he said in his veto message.

Congress voted for the first time this month to invoke the War Powers Resolution to stop U.S. involvement in a foreign conflict. Lawmakers, who are increasingly uneasy about the administration’s alliance with Saudi Arabia, lack the votes to override the veto.

Since 2015, the U.S. has provided support for the Saudi-led coalition, including intelligence sharing, logistics support, and, until recently, in-flight refueling of other countries’ aircraft.

“None of this support has introduced United States military personnel into hostilities,” Mr. Trump said.

“We are providing this support for many reasons. First and foremost, it is our duty to protect the safety of the more than 80,000 Americans who reside in certain coalition countries that have been subject to Houthi attacks from Yemen.”

Iran-supported Houthi rebels have attacked civilian and military targets in coalition countries, the president said, including areas frequented by U.S. citizens.

“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,” Mr. Trump said.

The president called the resolution “dangerous.”

“The Congress should not seek to prohibit certain tactical operations, such as in-flight refueling, or require military engagements to adhere to arbitrary timelines,” he said, adding that such action “would interfere with the President’s constitutional authority as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces.”

“We cannot end the conflict in Yemen through political documents like S.J. Res. 7,” Mr. Trump said. “Peace in Yemen requires a negotiated settlement.”

He also urged the Senate to confirm his nominees for key diplomatic posts in the Middle East.

Mr. Trump vetoed a measure earlier this year that sought to nullify his declaration of a national emergency on the southern border.

Rep. Ro Khanna, California Democrat and an outspoken advocate of the resolution, called the president’s veto “a painful missed opportunity.”

“The Yemen War Powers Resolution was a bipartisan, bicameral effort to end the world’s largest humanitarian crisis and supported by some of the president’s most trusted Republican allies,” Mr. Khanna said. He said the resolution “was a major win” regardless, asserting that the measure “sends a clear signal to the Saudis that they need to lift their blockade and allow humanitarian assistance into Yemen if they care about their relationship with Congress.”