The War in Yemen: A Compilation of Legislation in the 115th Congress

The 115th Congress continues to debate the extent and terms of the United States involvement in the ongoing conflict in Yemen, where fighting has continued unabated since March 2015. Lawmakers have questioned the extent to which successive Administrations have adhered to existing law relating to providing security assistance, including sales or transfers of defense goods and defense services, while upholding international human rights standards (e.g., 22 U.S.C. §2754 or 22 U.S.C. §2304). They also have proposed new legislation that would extend legislative oversight over the executive branch’s policy toward the war in Yemen.

This product provides a summary of all legislative proposals that the 115th Congress has considered to date regarding the conflict in Yemen. Proposed stand-alone legislation, resolutions, and amendments to wider bills [National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 2810; P.L. 115-91) and Defense appropriations (H.R. 3219/Division I, H.R. 3354)] reflect a range of congressional perspectives and priorities, including, among other things:

the authorization of the deployment of U.S. armed forces in the conflict;

the extent of U.S. logistical and intelligence support for the coalition led by Saudi Arabia;

the approval, disapproval, or conditioning of U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia;

the appropriation of funds in support of the Saudi-led coalition’s operations;

the conduct of the Saudi-led coalition’s air campaign and adherence to international humanitarian law and the laws of armed conflict;

the demand for greater humanitarian access to Yemen;

the call for a wider government assessment of the U.S. role in the conflict;

the imperative of U.S.-Saudi counterterrorism cooperation; and

the role of Iran in suppling missile technology and other weapons to the forces of the Houthi movement.

This product will be updated during the second session of the 115th Congress to reflect new legislative proposals. It does not include references to Yemen in Iran sanctions legislation, which are covered in CRS Report RS20871, Iran Sanctions. For additional information on the war in Yemen and Saudi Arabia, please see the following CRS Products.

CRS Report R43960, Yemen: Civil War and Regional Intervention.

CRS Report RL33533, Saudi Arabia: Background and U.S. Relations.

CRS Insight IN10729, Yemen: Cholera Outbreak.

CRS Insight IN10557, Saudi Military Campaign in Yemen Draws Congressional Attention to U.S. Arms Sales.

CRS Insight IN10599, Yemen: Recent Attacks Against U.S. Naval Vessels in the Red Sea.

The War in Yemen: A Compilation of Legislation in the 115th Congress

December 20, 2017 (R45046)
Jump to Main Text of Report

Summary

The 115th Congress continues to debate the extent and terms of the United States involvement in the ongoing conflict in Yemen, where fighting has continued unabated since March 2015. Lawmakers have questioned the extent to which successive Administrations have adhered to existing law relating to providing security assistance, including sales or transfers of defense goods and defense services, while upholding international human rights standards (e.g., 22 U.S.C. §2754 or 22 U.S.C. §2304). They also have proposed new legislation that would extend legislative oversight over the executive branch's policy toward the war in Yemen.

This product provides a summary of all legislative proposals that the 115th Congress has considered to date regarding the conflict in Yemen. Proposed stand-alone legislation, resolutions, and amendments to wider bills [National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 2810; P.L. 115-91) and Defense appropriations (H.R. 3219/Division I, H.R. 3354)] reflect a range of congressional perspectives and priorities, including, among other things:

  • the authorization of the deployment of U.S. armed forces in the conflict;
  • the extent of U.S. logistical and intelligence support for the coalition led by Saudi Arabia;
  • the approval, disapproval, or conditioning of U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia;
  • the appropriation of funds in support of the Saudi-led coalition's operations;
  • the conduct of the Saudi-led coalition's air campaign and adherence to international humanitarian law and the laws of armed conflict;
  • the demand for greater humanitarian access to Yemen;
  • the call for a wider government assessment of the U.S. role in the conflict;
  • the imperative of U.S.-Saudi counterterrorism cooperation; and
  • the role of Iran in suppling missile technology and other weapons to the forces of the Houthi movement.

This product will be updated during the second session of the 115th Congress to reflect new legislative proposals. It does not include references to Yemen in Iran sanctions legislation, which are covered in CRS Report RS20871, Iran Sanctions. For additional information on the war in Yemen and Saudi Arabia, please see the following CRS Products.

CRS Report R43960, Yemen: Civil War and Regional Intervention.

CRS Report RL33533, Saudi Arabia: Background and U.S. Relations.

CRS Insight IN10729, Yemen: Cholera Outbreak.

CRS Insight IN10557, Saudi Military Campaign in Yemen Draws Congressional Attention to U.S. Arms Sales.

CRS Insight IN10599, Yemen: Recent Attacks Against U.S. Naval Vessels in the Red Sea.


The War in Yemen: A Compilation of Legislation in the 115th Congress

Overview: U.S. Involvement in the War in Yemen, 2015-Present

In March 2015, Saudi Arabia established a coalition of nations (hereinafter referred to as the Saudi-led coalition) to engage in military operations in Yemen against the Ansar Allah/Houthi movement and loyalists of the previous president of Yemen, the late Ali Abdullah Saleh.1 The war in Yemen has continued unabated since then, leading, according to the United Nations, to one of the world's largest humanitarian crises.

The United States' role in supporting the Saudi-led coalition's military operations in Yemen has shifted over time. The United States had joined Saudi Arabia in demanding Houthi forces reverse their 2014 campaign to occupy the Yemeni capital of Sana'a, but the rapid onset of hostilities in March 2015 forced the Obama Administration to react quickly. At the start of the Saudi-led intervention on March 25, 2015, the Administration announced that the United States would provide "logistical and intelligence support" to the coalition's operations without taking "direct military action in Yemen in support of this effort."2 Soon thereafter, a joint U.S.-Saudi planning cell was established to coordinate military and intelligence support for the campaign. At the United Nations Security Council, the United States supported the passage of Resolution 2216 (April 2015), which, among other things, required member states to impose an arms embargo against the Houthi-Saleh forces and demanded that the Houthis withdraw from all areas seized during the current conflict.

As the engagement went on, reports of errant coalition airstrikes leading to civilian casualties and infrastructure damage mounted.3 The Obama Administration reportedly considered the legal implications of possible U.S. complicity in the Saudi-led coalition's alleged violations of the international laws of armed conflict.4 In summer 2016, the Obama Administration withdrew small numbers of U.S. military personnel who were assisting in coordinating the Saudi-led air campaign in Yemen.5 In the wake of an October 2016 Saudi airstrike on a funeral hall in Sana'a that killed 140 people, the Obama Administration initiated a review of U.S. security assistance to Saudi Arabia. Based on that review, it put a hold on a planned sale of precision guided munitions (PGMs) to Saudi Arabia and limited intelligence sharing, but maintained counterterrorism cooperation and refueling for coalition aircraft. While the Obama Administration emphasized Saudi Arabia's need to defend itself from Houthi missile strikes, it also amplified its calls for a political settlement to the conflict.

In the final months of the Obama Administration, U.S. Armed Forces briefly became directly militarily involved in the conflict. In October 2016, Houthi-Saleh forces launched anti-ship missiles at U.S. Navy vessels on patrol off the coast of Yemen. The attacks against the U.S. ships marked the first time U.S. Armed Forces had come under direct fire in the war. The Obama Administration responded to the attacks against U.S. naval vessels by firing cruise missiles against Houthi-Saleh radar installations. The Obama Administration described those attacks as self-defense and indicated that it did not want to deepen its direct involvement in the conflict.6

Trump Administration Policy

Under the Trump Administration, U.S. policy in support of coalition operations in Yemen has shifted. For most of 2017, the Trump Administration signaled strong support for the Saudi-led coalition's operations in Yemen as a bulwark against Iranian regional interference.7 As part of this support, the Trump Administration notified Congress of its intention to proceed with the proposed sale of precision guided munitions technologies that were deferred by the Obama Administration and to increase training for Saudi Arabia's air force on both targeting and the Law of Armed Conflict.8 In his biannual War Powers letters to Congress on the deployment of U.S. forces abroad in combat operations (P.L. 93-148), President Trump not only referred to expanded U.S. counterterrorism operations in Yemen, but also emphasized that U.S. forces in non-combat role were providing "logistics and other support to regional forces combatting the Houthi insurgency in Yemen."9

In November 2017, a Houthi missile with alleged Iranian origins landed deep inside Saudi Arabia, leading the coalition to blockade all of Yemen's ports. This exacerbated Yemen's humanitarian crisis, and the Trump Administration demanded that the coalition ease its entry restrictions while condemning Iran for its dangerous escalation of the conflict.10 From November 8 to December 8, the White House issued four press statements on the conflict, including:

  • On November 8, four days after the missile strike, the White House Press Secretary condemned Iran's destabilizing regional activities in Yemen and called on the United Nations to "conduct a thorough examination of evidence that the Iranian regime is perpetuating the war in Yemen to advance its regional ambitions."11
  • On November 24, when the Saudi-led coalition announced that it would begin allowing humanitarian aid to resume entering Hodeida port, the White House welcomed the coalition's actions while stating, "We look forward to additional steps that will facilitate the unfettered flow of humanitarian and commercial goods from all ports of entry to the points of need."12
  • On December 6, as the blockade of commercial goods into Hodeida port continued, the President called on Saudi Arabia to "completely allow food, fuel, water, and medicine to reach the Yemeni people who desperately need it. This must be done for humanitarian reasons immediately."13
  • On December 8, the White House released a more detailed statement on the conflict in Yemen, expressing grave concern over humanitarian conditions and urging "all parties to immediately cease hostilities, reenergize political talks, and end the suffering of the Yemeni people." While the statement condemned Houthi repression of political opponents and continued Iranian interference, it also called on the "Saudi-led coalition to facilitate the free flow of humanitarian aid and critical commercial goods, including fuel, through all Yemeni ports and to restore commercial flights through Sana'a Airport."14 That same day, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson remarked at the French Foreign Ministry in Paris, "I think with respect to Saudi Arabia's engagement with Qatar, how they're handling the Yemen war that they're engaged in, the Lebanon situation, I think we would encourage them to be a bit more measured and a bit more thoughtful in those actions, to I think fully consider the consequences."15

On December 14, the Administration once again addressed the conflict in Yemen but from within the context of Iran's broader destabilizing regional activities. In refocusing attention on the Houthi-Iranian dimension of the conflict, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Nikki Haley presented materials recovered from a missile fired by Houthi forces into Saudi Arabia that reportedly are of Iranian origin. The missile fragments have similarities in design to the Iranian Qiam short-range ballistic missile.16 A United Nations report investigating the supply of Iranian missiles to the Houthis reportedly is less conclusive on the matter, noting that investigators are "still analyzing the information collected."17On December 19, the Houthis claimed to have fired another ballistic missile aimed at the Saudi royal al Yamama palace in Riyadh, where a meeting of Saudi leaders was under way. Saudi Arabia claimed to have intercepted the missile which it said was aimed at residential areas south of the capital. The State Department condemned the Houthi missile attack and urged "all parties to facilitate the free and unfettered flow of humanitarian aid and commercial goods, including fuel, into and throughout Yemen, including through all of Yemen's ports, including Hudaydah [Hodeida] port and Sana'a airport."18

Recent Congressional Action

As the Trump Administration attempts to balance its condemnation of the Houthis and their Iranian backers with more direct calls for the coalition to ease its blockade, there has been heightened interest in Congress regarding the U.S. role in the Yemen conflict. According to one report, U.S. officials have acknowledged that pressure from Congress has altered how the Administration deals with the coalition over the Yemen conflict, with one unnamed official stating, "We wanted to be very clear with Saudi officials that the political environment here could constrain us if steps aren't taken to ease humanitarian conditions in Yemen."19 In recent weeks, Senators Todd Young and Christopher Murphy reportedly placed a hold on the confirmation of the State Department's nominee for legal advisor, Jennifer Newstead, until the Administration takes certain steps to address the coalition's blockade of Yemen.20 Newstead was confirmed by the Senate on December 19 after promising the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to consider evidence of any possible foreign government restriction of the delivery of U.S. humanitarian assistance to Yemen in determining whether to apply statutory prohibitions found in 22 U.S. Code §2378-1(a).21 Other Members have referenced war powers legislation as a potential vehicle for extricating the United States from its role in militarily supporting the Saudi-led coalition. At a December 13 Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Senator Benjamin Cardin remarked, "I noted with interest the introduction, last month, of a bipartisan concurrent resolution in the House of Representatives pursuant to section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution that directs the President to remove United States Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen, except those engaged in operations directed at Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula or associated forces. This is an interesting example of a potential way Congress could assert itself on these matters.22 (See H.Con.Res. 81 below.)"

Overall, Congress has continued to debate legislative proposals seeking variously to:

  • Require additional oversight reporting on U.S. activities;
  • Restrict or prohibit the deployment of U.S. military personnel for certain purposes in Yemen; and/or
  • Condition or prohibit the provision of certain support or the sale of certain weaponry to Saudi Arabia.

Table 1 describes these proposals.

Table 1. Proposed Legislation on the Conflict in Yemen

Bills, Resolutions, and Amendments offered in the 115th Congress

Bill Number

Sponsor

Summary

Status

Resolutions and Standalone Legislation

S.Res. 114

Senator Todd Young, (R) – Indiana and Senator Benjamin Cardin, (D)-Maryland

Among other things, states the sense of the Senate that the United States should support efforts to hold accountable those responsible for deliberate restrictions on humanitarian access in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen.

Resolution agreed to in Senate with an amendment and an amended preamble by unanimous consent on 09/26/2017.

S.J.Res. 40

H.J.Res. 104

Senator Christopher Murphy, (D) – Connecticut

Representative Ted Lieu, (D) – California

Would prohibit the transfer to Saudi Arabia of U.S. air–to–ground munitions until the President certifies to Congress that, among other thing: Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners are taking all feasible precautions to reduce the risk of civilian harm and exercising proportional use of force in the course of military actions, and are making demonstrable efforts to facilitate the flow of critical humanitarian aid and commercial goods. The bill also would require a briefing on U.S. government support for the Saudi–led coalition's military operations in Yemen, which would include an assessment, among other things, of whether these operations in Yemen constitute legitimate self–defense and whether these operations have deliberately targeted civilian infrastructure in Yemen.

S.J.Res. 40 referred to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on 04/06/17.

H.J.Res 104 referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on 05/25/2017.

H.R. 2795

Representative Karen Bass, (D) – California

Would require the Secretaries of State and Defense in coordination with the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development to provide Congress with a report on United States security and humanitarian interests in Yemen, including: the strategic objectives of the United States in Yemen, including humanitarian support to civilian populations under threat of famine, and the criteria for determining the success of such objectives; a description of efforts to coordinate civilian and military efforts with respect to Yemen; and a description of the diplomatic strategy with respect to regional partners seeking to end the civil war in Yemen.

Referred to the Subcommittee on Middle East and North Africa, House Foreign Affairs Committee on 06/27/17.

H.R.4603

Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, (R) - Florida

Would, among other things, require the President to impose sanctions on a foreign person that the President determines knowingly provides significant financial, material, or technological support for, among others, the Ansar Allah in Yemen (Houthis). The bill also would require the President to report on Iranian activities in Yemen.

H.R.4603 referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs on 12/07/2017, and in addition to the Committee on the Judiciary, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

H.Con.Res. 81

Representative Ro Khanna, (D) – California

Would direct the President to remove U.S. Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen, except those engaged in operations directed at Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, within 30 days after adoption of this concurrent resolution, unless the President requests and Congress authorizes a later date, and unless and until a declaration of war or specific authorization for the use of U.S. Armed Forces has been enacted.

Unanimous consent that the provisions of Section 7 of the War Powers Resolution (50 U.S.C. 1546) shall apply to H.Con.Res. 81 not earlier than November 2, 2017, but on the same terms that would have adhered on October 13, 2017. Agreed to without objection on 10/11/17.

H.Res. 599

Representative Ro Khanna, (D) – California

Among other things, expresses the urgent need for a political solution in Yemen consistent with United Nations Security Council Resolution 2216; denounces the conduct of activities in Yemen and areas affected by the conflict that are, directly or indirectly, inconsistent with the laws of armed conflict; and condemns Iranian activities in Yemen in violation of UNSCR 2216. Calls on all responsible countries to take appropriate and necessary measures against the Government of Iran, including the interdiction of Iranian weapons to the Houthis, and the bilateral and multilateral application of sanctions against Iran for its violations of UNSCR 2216.

Unanimous consent that it be in order at any time to consider in the House H.Res. 599 with one hour of debate and that notwithstanding any previous order of the House, the provisions of Section 7 of the War Powers Resolution (50 U.S.C. 1546) shall not apply to H.Con.Res. 81. Agreed to without objection on 11/1/17. Passed in the House on 11/13/17 (Yeas and Nays 366-30, 1 present, and 35 not voting).

National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018

H.R. 2810 (NDAA)/ P.L. 115-91

Representative Mac Thornberry, (R) – Texas

Section 1277 (House–passed) – Requires the President to provide the appropriate congressional committees with a report that contains a security strategy for Yemen, including, among other things: a discussion of the strategy's compliance with applicable legal authorities and a detailed description of the roles of the United States Armed Forces in implementing the strategy.

Section 1275 (Agreed to in Conference)- Requires the President to provide the appropriate congressional committees with a report that contains a security strategy for Yemen, including, among other things: "an explanation of the legal authorities supporting the strategy; a detailed description of the political and security environment in Yemen; a detailed description of the threats posed by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria–Yemen Province, including the intent, capabilities, strategic aims, and resources attributable to each organization; a detailed description of the threats posed to freedom of navigation through the Bab al Mandab Strait and waters in proximity to Yemen as well as any United States efforts to mitigate those threats; a detailed description of the threats posed to the United States and its allies and partners by the proliferation of advanced conventional weapons in Yemen; a detailed description of the threats posed to United States interests by state actors in Yemen; a discussion of United States objectives regarding long-term stability and counterterrorism in Yemen; a plan to integrate the United States diplomatic, development, military, and intelligence resources necessary to implement the strategy; and a detailed description of the roles of the United States Armed Forces in supporting the strategy."

Engrossed in the House on 07/14/2017. The Senate contained no similar provision. In conference, the prohibition on funds contained in Section 1277(e) [see below] was removed and conferees adopted the security strategy provisions contained in Section 1277 with clarifying changes and incorporated them into Section 1275 in P.L. 115-91.

H.R. 2810 (NDAA)/ P.L. 115-91

Representative Ted Lieu, (D – CA), Representative Ruben Gallego (D – AZ), Representative Yvette Clarke (D – NY)

House Rules Committee Amendment 274 – Requires the Secretaries of State and Defense to provide the appropriate congressional committees with a report on military action of Saudi Arabia and its coalitions partners in Yemen, including among other things: the extent to which the Government of Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners in Yemen are abiding by their "No Strike List and Restricted Target List," and the roles played by United States military personnel with respect to operations of such coalition partners in Yemen.

Section 1265 (Agreed to in Conference) – Requires the Secretaries of State and Defense to provide the appropriate congressional committees with a report on military action of Saudi Arabia and its coalitions partners in Yemen, including, among other things: the extent to which the Government of Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners in Yemen are taking demonstrable actions to "reduce the risk of harm to civilians and civilian objects, in compliance with obligations under international humanitarian law; facilitate the flow of humanitarian aid and commercial goods into Yemen, including commercial fuel and commodities not subject to sanction or prohibition under United Nations Security Council Resolution 2216 (2015); and target al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and affiliates of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria as part of the coalition's military operations in Yemen." Would also require an assessment of "the role of United States military personnel with respect to operations of such coalition partners in Yemen" and "progress made by the Government of Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners in avoiding and investigating, if necessary, civilian casualties, including improvements to (A) targeting methodology; (B) the strike approval process; and (C) training of personnel, including by implementing the recommendations of the Joint Incident Assessment Team."

Submitted on 07/12/17.

Made in order as Amendment 93 in H.Rept. 115-217. Adopted by voice vote as part of en bloc H.Amdt. 195. Incorporated as Section 1293 and engrossed in the House on 07/14/2017.

Agreed to in conference (with clarifying changes) and incorporated as Section 1265 in P.L. 115-91. The conference agreement changed the reporting requirement from an annual report with no time limit to an annual report issued for two years.

H.R. 2810 (NDAA)/ P.L. 115-91

Representative Rick Nolan, (D) – Minnesota

House Rules Committee Amendment 159 – Prohibits the use of funds authorized to be appropriated by the Act to deploy members of the Armed Forces to participate in the ongoing civil war in Yemen.

Submitted on 07/12/2017.

Made in order as Amendment 84 in H.Rept. 115-217. Adopted by voice vote as part of en bloc H.Amdt. 194. Incorporated as Section 1277(e) and engrossed in the House on 07/14/2017. The Senate struck the prohibition on funds in conference.

H.R. 2810 (NDAA)/ P.L. 115-91

Representative Ro Khanna, (D) – California

House Rules Committee Amendment 70 – Would require certifications for provision of air–to–ground munitions to countries relating to the civil war in Yemen.

Submitted on 07/12/17.

Not made in order by Rules Committee.

H.R. 2810 (NDAA)/ P.L. 115-91

Representative Ro Khanna, (D) – California

House Rules Committee Amendment 71 – Would require an investigation to determine if employees of the Department of Defense violated federal law or Department of Defense policy while conducting operations in Yemen.

Submitted on 07/12/17.

Not made in order by Rules Committee.

H.R. 2810 (NDAA)/ P.L. 115-91

Representatives Khanna (D – CA) Jones (R – NC)

Conyers (D – MI)

Pocan (D – WI)

Lee (D – CA)

Grijalva (D – AZ)

Clarke (D – NY)

House Rules Committee Amendment 73 – Would prohibit refueling for missions over northern and western Yemen and requires a reoccurring report to Congress.

Submitted on 07/12/17.

Not made in order by Rules Committee.

H.R. 2810 (NDAA)/ P.L. 115-91

Representative Warren Davison, (R) – Ohio

House Rules Committee Amendment 386 – No FY2018 Defense Department funds may be made available to conduct military operations in Yemen with the exception of: Activities carried out in full compliance with the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107–40; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note), the provision of humanitarian assistance, the defense of United States Armed Forces, and support for freedom of navigation operations.

Submitted on 07/12/2017.

Made in order as Amendment 120 in H.Rept. 115-217. Adopted by voice vote as part of en bloc H.Amdt. 196. Incorporated as Section 1298 and engrossed in the House on 07/14/2017.

H.R. 2810 (NDAA)/ P.L. 115-91

Representatives Gwen Moore, (D) – Wisconsin and Yvette Clarke, (D) –New York

House Rules Committee Amendment 188 – Would require the U.S. strategy on Yemen to also consider the political and humanitarian environment in Yemen, ways to mitigate harms to civilians caused by the ongoing conflict, and efforts to improve access to food, water, and health care. Would require an assessment of how military and other support to regional allies will help to achieve this strategy, including how the U.S. will ensure that such aid is not used to harm civilians. Would require that future budget requests specifically identify costs associated with implementing the required strategy.

Submitted on 07/12/17.

Not made in order by Rules Committee.

H.R. 2810 (NDAA)/ P.L. 115-91

S.Amdt. 439

Senator Elizabeth Warren, (D) – Massachusetts

Senate Amendment 439 – Would require the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the Director of National Intelligence, to provide Congress with a report assessing whether the use of air–to–ground munitions sold or otherwise supplied by the United States to the Government of Saudi Arabia have resulted in civilian casualties, and providing recommendations on actions to be taken to mitigate the incidence of civilian casualties in Yemen.

Submitted on 07/27/2017.

Not considered.

H.R. 2810 (NDAA)/ P.L. 115-91

S.Amdt. 585

Senator Todd Young, (R) – Indiana

Senate Amendment 585 – Would prohibit the sale or export of any defense article to the government of Saudi Arabia during FY2018 until the Secretary of State certifies that, among other things: the Government of Saudi Arabia is complying fully with its obligations in Yemen under international law; and that the government of Saudi Arabia is facilitating the delivery and installation of cranes to the port of Hodeida. Would also require the Comptroller General to report on whether the conclusions in the certification are fully supported.

Submitted on 07/27/2017.

Not considered.

H.R. 2810 (NDAA)/ P.L. 115-91

S.Amdt. 896

Senator Christopher Murphy, (D) – Connecticut

Senate Amendment 896 – Would require the Secretary of Defense to certify certain government of Saudi Arabia action before funds may be authorized by the Act for the refueling of aircraft of Saudi Arabia or its military coalition partners in Yemen. The certification would not apply for refueling missions related to counterterrorism operations. The Secretary of Defense may waive the certification requirement.

Submitted on 09/11/2017.

Not considered.

H.R. 2810 (NDAA)/ P.L. 115-91

S.Amdt. 923

Senator Marco Rubio, (R) – Florida

Senate Amendment 923 – Would require the Secretaries of State and Defense to jointly report on the military action of Saudi Arabia and its coalitions partners in Yemen, including, among other things: The extent to which the Government of Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners in Yemen are abiding by their "No Strike List and Restricted Target List'" and the roles played by United States military personnel with respect to operations of such coalition partners in Yemen.

Submitted on 09/11/2017.

Not considered.

H.R. 2810 (NDAA)/ P.L. 115-91

S.Amdt. 1081

Senators Young, Murphy, and Heller, (R) – Nevada

Senate Amendment 1081 – Similar to SA Amendment 896, would require the Secretary of Defense to certify certain government of Saudi Arabia action before funds may be authorized by the Act for the refueling of aircraft of Saudi Arabia or its military coalition partners in Yemen. This certification would require, among other things, that the Government of Saudi Arabia is facilitating the delivery and installation of cranes to the port of Hodeida.

Submitted on 09/14/2017.

Not considered.

H.R.3219 – Make America Secure Appropriations Act, 2018 (Defense Appropriations)

H.R. 3219 (FY2018 Defense Appropriations)/ Division I, H.R. 3354

Representative Rick Nolan, (D) – Minnesota

House Rules Committee Amendment 35 – Would prohibit funds made available by the Act from being used to deploy members of the Armed Forces to participate in the ongoing civil war in Yemen.

Not made in order by Rules Committee.

H.R. 3219 (FY2018 Defense Appropriations)/ Division I, H.R. 3354

Representative Warren Davidson, (R) – Ohio

House Rules Committee Amendment 104 – Would prohibit the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by the Act to be used with respect to Yemen in contravention of the War Powers Resolution.

Made in order as Amendment 45 in H.Rept. 115-261. Considered as H.Amdt. 268 on 07/27/2017. Failed by voice vote.

H.R. 3219 (FY2018 Defense Appropriations)/ Division I, H.R. 3354

Representatives Khanna (CA), Jones (NC), Amash (MI), Pocan (WI)

House Rules Committee Amendment 13 – Would prohibit the use of funds made available by the Act to transfer munitions to Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates.

Not made in order by Rules Committee.

H.R. 3219 (FY2018 Defense Appropriations)/ Division I, H.R. 3354

Representatives Khanna (CA) and Jones (NC)

House Rules Committee Amendment 20 – Would prohibit the use of funds made available by the Act to transfer fuel to Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates, except in connection with Operation Inherent Resolve and operations conducted by Special Operations Command–Central or under Operating Enduring Freedom–Horn of Africa.

Not made in order by Rules Committee.

H.R. 3219 (FY2018 Defense Appropriations)/ Division I, H.R. 3354

Representatives Amash (MI), Conyers (MI), Jones (NC), Pocan (WI), Lee (CA), McGovern (MA), Lieu (CA)

House Rules Committee Amendment 44 – Would prohibit the use of funds made available by the Act from being used to transfer or authorize the transfer of cluster munitions to the Government of Saudi Arabia.

Not made in order by Rules Committee.

House Omnibus Appropriations FY2018

H.R. 3354 ("minibus")

Representative Ro Khanna, Democrat–California

House Rules Committee Amendment 45 – Would reduce funds for the International Military Education & Training (IMET) program for Saudi Arabia and increase the State Department's international disaster assistance program for Yemen.

Submitted on 09/12//2017. Not made in order by Rules Committee.

Joint Resolutions of Disapproval on U.S. Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia

S.J.Res. 42

H.J.Res 102

Senator Rand Paul, (R) – Kentucky

Representative Justin Amash, (R) – Michigan

Would disapprove of the proposed export to the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia of certain defense articles, such as joint direct attack munitions (JDAMs), Paveway laser–guided munitions kits, and programmable bomb fuzes.

Considered in the Senate on 06/13/2017.

Motion to discharge resolution from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee rejected by Yea–Nay Vote (47 – 53, Record Vote Number 143).

Source: Congress.gov, Congressional Record, and House Rules Committee.

Author Contact Information

[author name scrubbed], Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs ([email address scrubbed], [phone number scrubbed])
[author name scrubbed], Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs ([email address scrubbed], [phone number scrubbed])

Acknowledgments

Christopher Mellon provided research support for this product.

Footnotes

1.

For background, see CRS Report RL34170, Yemen: Background and U.S. Relations. In early December 2017, the Houthi-Saleh alliance unraveled, culminating in the killing of former President Saleh on December 4, 2017.

2.

Statement by NSC Spokesperson Bernadette Meehan on the Situation in Yemen, The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, March 25, 2015.

3.

See, "Bombing Businesses: Saudi Coalition Airstrikes on Yemen's Civilian Economic Structures," Human Rights Watch, July 11, 2016.

4.

"As Saudis bombed Yemen, U.S. worried about legal blowback," Reuters, October 10, 2016.

5.

"U.S. withdraws staff from Saudi Arabia dedicated to Yemen planning," Reuters, August 19, 2016.

6.

Letter from the President -- War Powers Resolution, The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, October 14, 2016.

7.

U.S. Department of State, Remarks with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al Jubeir at a Press Availability, Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson, Courtyard Riyadh Diplomatic Quarter, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, May 20, 2017.

8.

A November 2017 report suggests that Saudi Arabia has agreed to purchase $7 billion in precision munitions from U.S. companies in agreements that would span a decade. See, "Saudi Arabia Agrees to buy $7 billion in Precision Munitions from U.S. firms: Sources," Reuters, November 22, 2017. To date, no new precision-guided munitions sale has been notified to Congress since the May 2017 notification of three direct commercial sales of precision guided munitions technology that had been deferred by the Obama Administration.

9.

See, Text of a Letter from the President to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, December 11, 2017.

10.

On November 4, 2017, a Houthi ballistic missile (with alleged Iranian markings) landed on Saudi soil near King Khalid international airport in Riyadh. Two days later, the Saudi-led coalition closed all Yemeni ports, including Hodeida, which is the primary point of entry for most imported food and humanitarian supplies entering Yemen. Yemen imports over 90% of its food supply. After the coalition's imposition of total ports' closure, food and fuel prices skyrocketed, leading international aid agencies to warn of impending famine. The total closure of all Yemeni ports lasted until November 24, 2017, when the Saudi-led coalition announced that it would begin allowing humanitarian aid to resume entering Hodeida port - but not commercial shipments of food and fuel. The Saudi-led coalition argues that the Houthis earn hard currency by taxing fuel imports. 80% of Yemen's imported food is from commercial suppliers rather than from humanitarian sources, and, as of late December 2017, it is unclear if commercial sources of food are permitted to unload in Hodeida.

11.

The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, White House Statement on Iranian-Supported Missile Attacks Against Saudi Arabia, November 8, 2017.

12.

The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, Statement from the Press Secretary on the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen, November 24, 2017.

13.

The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, Statement by President Donald J. Trump on Yemen, December 06, 2017.

14.

The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, Statement by the Press Secretary Regarding the Violence and Humanitarian Conditions in Yemen, December 08, 2017.

15.

U.S. State Department, Remarks, Rex W. Tillerson, Secretary of State, French Foreign Ministry, Paris, France, December 8, 2017.

16.

U.S. Mission to the United Nations, Remarks at a Press Conference on Iranian Arms Exports, Ambassador Nikki Haley, December 14, 2017.

17.

"Trump Administration Showcases Weapons to allege Iran is increasing its Role in Yemen," Washington Post, December 14, 2017.

18.

U.S. State Department, Condemning the Houthi Missile Strike Against Saudi Arabia, Press Statement, Heather Nauert, Department Spokesperson, December 19, 2017.

19.

"In Push for Yemen aid, U.S. warned Saudis of Threats in Congress," Reuters, December 8, 2017.

20.

"GOP Senator Presses Trump Administration Over Deadly Saudi Blockade in Yemen," Foreign Policy, December 4, 2017. On December 14, the Senator sent a letter to President Trump thanking the President for his December 6 statement, while asserting that the coalition's blockade triggers, per the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 as amended (22 U.S. Code §2378–1(a)), a prohibition on U.S. foreign assistance to Saudi Arabia. See, Senator Todd Young, Young: Law Triggered by Saudi Arabia's Actions in Yemen, December 14, 2017.

21.

Available online at: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/4333104-20171114-Young-Newstead-QFRs-Round-3-1.html.

22.

United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Cardin Expresses Concerns, Raises Questions about Presidential Use of Military Force Issues, December 13, 2017.