Sen­a­tors wres­tle with re­buke of Saudis for killing

Three ef­forts each have mo­men­tum


Wash­ing­ton — Sen­a­tors are con­sid­er­ing mul­ti­ple pieces of leg­is­la­tion to for­mally re­buke Saudi Ara­bia for the slay­ing of jour­nal­ist Ja­mal Khashoggi, with mo­men­tum build­ing for a res­o­lu­tion to call Saudi Crown Prince Mo­hammed bin Sal­man com­plicit in the killing.

Se­nate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee Chair­man Bob Corker said Thurs­day that sen­a­tors are look­ing at mov­ing three mea­sures — a res­o­lu­tion to con­demn the crown prince for Khashoggi’s mur­der, a bill to sus­pend arms sales to the king­dom and a res­o­lu­tion to call on Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion to pull back U.S. help for the Saudi-led war in Ye­men.

“We have three dif­fer­ent ef­forts un­der­way, all of which have a lot of mo­men­tum,” Corker, R-Tenn., said after meet­ing with other sen­a­tors to ne­go­ti­ate on Thurs­day. Corker said that most sen­a­tors “in some form or fash­ion are go­ing to want to speak to Saudi Ara­bia and where they are and send a mes­sage.”

It’s un­clear how strong that mes­sage will be. The Se­nate is ex­pected to vote next week on the Ye­men res­o­lu­tion, but sen­a­tors are wrestling with how to limit amend­ments to pre­vent a free­wheel­ing floor de­bate that would al­low votes on un­re­lated is­sues. Corker said the For­eign Re­la­tions panel may vote on the other two mea­sures re­lated to Saudi Ara­bia.

Repub­li­can House lead­ers haven’t in­di­cated they will take up any of the mea­sures, mean­ing any ac­tion by the Se­nate is likely to be sym­bolic, for now. Democrats tak­ing over the House in Jan­uary have in­tro­duced bills sim­i­lar to the Se­nate leg­is­la­tion and would be more likely to re­buke Saudi Ara­bia. House Demo­cratic leader Nancy Pelosi said the cham­ber will have a brief­ing from in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials next week on Khashoggi and “we’ll know more after that.”

Sen­a­tors in both par­ties have been en­raged over the killing and over Trump’s equiv­o­cat­ing on who is to blame. Pressed on a re­sponse to Saudi Ara­bia, the pres­i­dent has said the United States “in­tends to re­main a stead­fast part­ner” of the coun­try, touted Saudi arms deals worth bil­lions of dol­lars to the U.S. and thanked the coun­try for plung­ing oil prices.

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