The Senate on Wednesday failed to pass two disapproval resolutions pushed by a bipartisan group of senators to block a $23 billion US arms sale to the United Arab Emirates that was approved by the Trump administration.
The first procedural measure failed to advance on a 46-50 vote and the second procedural vote failed to advance by 47-49.
GOP Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Democratic Sens. Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Chris Murphy of Connecticut opposed the sale of drones, F-35 fighter jets and other weapons for a variety of reasons, including fears of ratcheting up the arms race in the unstable region.
There is no expectation that there will be further efforts to block the deal in the coming days, meaning the sale is expected to be cleared by Friday, which will be a victory for the Trump administration. President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has led the effort to push the sale through, and participated in a Senate Republican call on the topic this week, CNN reported.
Even if they did vote to block the sale, Trump would be expected to veto the measure, setting an even higher bar of a two-thirds supermajority to override that.
Menendez had expressed optimism last week that even if they can’t block the sale, the incoming Biden administration would reverse course on the sale before the weapons are sent.
The top Democrats on the Intelligence, Foreign Relations and Armed Services committees put out a joint statement Wednesday evening after the votes, expressing frustration about receiving insufficient information about the sale from the administration.
“Unfortunately, the Trump administration has once again tried to circumvent and undermine congressional oversight responsibilities while rushing through these sales in the final days of the administration,” Menendez. as well as Sens. Mark Warner of Virginia and Jack Reed of Rhode Island, said in the statement. “Many aspects of this proposed sale remain conceptual and we are being asked to support a significant transfer of advanced US technology without clarity on a number of key details regarding the sale or sufficient answers to critical national security questions.”