The White House is planning to invoke a national emergency to proceed with arms sales to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Jordan in a move which would bypass Congress, according to Al Jazeera.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the move was necessary since a delay could increase the risk for U.S. partners at a time of instability due to Iran.
“These sales will support our allies, enhance Middle East stability, and help these nations to deter and defend themselves from the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Pompeo said in a statement, adding the decision to circumvent Congress was meant to be a “one-time event.”
President Donald Trump said there is a national emergency due to the ongoing tensions with Iran, even though a number of Republicans and Democrats oppose the plan to proceed with 22 military sales to Jordan, UAE, and the Saudis.
Pompeo listed a number of products and services which would be provided to the three countries, including Raytheon precision-guided munitions (PGMs), support for Boeing Co F-15 aircraft, and Javelin anti-tank missiles, which are made by Raytheon and Lockheed Martin Corp.
Lawmakers already warned Trump was considering using a loophole in arms control law to proceed with the sale by declaring a national emergency after Congress blocked sales of offensive military equipment to Saudi Arabia and the UAE due to the rising civilian death toll in Yemen.
The move was also spurred by Riyadh's murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at a Saudi consulate in Turkey.
“I am disappointed, but not surprised, that the Trump Administration has failed once again to prioritize our long-term national security interests or stand up for human rights, and instead is granting favors to authoritarian countries like Saudi Arabia,” Senator Bob Menendez said in a statement about the decision.