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US Senate to Vote Next Week on Blocking Arms Sales to Bahrain and Qatar

The US Senate will witness two votes next week following efforts by Senator Rand Paul to prevent arms sales to Bahrain and Qatar, the Hill website reported.

The vote is expected to be held on Thursday.

The website noted that the Senate will vote on whether or not to discharge Paul’s resolutions of disapproval, one on the sale to Bahrain and a separate on the Qatar arms sales, out of the Foreign Relations Committee. If he’s successful it would kick the issue to the full Senate, and allow him to fast-track the two resolutions on the Senate floor.

The Trump administration notified Congress last month that it would sell missile systems and related equipment to Bahrain for approximately $2.47 billion. It also noticed a separate sale of missiles and other equipment tied to an aircraft fleet that would total $750 million. Paul’s resolution appears to only block the second arms sale.

“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States by helping to improve the security of a major non-NATO ally which is an important security partner in the region. Our mutual defense interests anchor our relationship and the Royal Bahraini Air Force (RBAF) plays a significant role in Bahrain’s defense,” the administration argued in its explanation for the arms sale.

The arms sale to Qatar that Paul is trying to block would provide apache attack helicopters and related equipment for $3 billion. Paul could face an uphill bid to block the arms sale. The Senate previously rejected his attempt to block an arms sale to Bahrain late last year.

Paul argued at the time that it was about the Yemen civil war. Lawmakers have grown increasingly frustrated about the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen, as part of growing angst on Capitol Hill about the U.S.-Saudi relationship.

“I rise today to call for an end to the U.S. involvement in the war in Yemen,” Paul said from the Senate floor at the time. “Your tax dollars are supporting this war, so I think there ought to be a debate. So that’s what I stand up today to do, is to force a debate on whether or not we should be involved with aiding and abetting the Saudi coalition in this war in Yemen.”

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