SALT LAKE CITY — Utah's senior Republican senator and the state's freshman Democratic congressman came down on the same side of ending U.S. support to the Saudi-led bloody civil war in Yemen.
Rep. Ben McAdams, D-Utah, joined majority Democrats in voting for the resolution calling on President Donald Trump to remove U.S. forces from hostilities in Yemen. Trump is expected to veto the measure that passed 247-175, with 16 Republicans — none from Utah — voting in favor.
After the House vote, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and other lawmakers urged Trump in a letter to sign the bill to end the "unconstitutional" war.
McAdams said he has serious concerns with the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.
"Congress has the responsibility to declare war. Until Congress gives that authority, I do not believe U.S. service members should be involved in this conflict, unless they are involved in operations directed at (al-Qaida) or associated forces," he said in a statement.
GOP Utah Reps. Rob Bishop, John Curtis and Chris Stewart voted against the bill.
"The U.S. military is not involved in active combat operations in Yemen. The only role they play is intelligence and targeting with the goal of reducing civilian casualties. I think that’s a goal worth supporting," Stewart said.
The Saudi-led bombing campaign has killed or injured an estimated 17,729 civilians, a quarter of whom are women and children, as of last month, according to the Yemen Data Project
Lee voted for the resolution in the Senate last month, while Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, voted against it. Lee was among seven Republicans who joined all Senate Democrats in backing the bill.
Lee joined Sens. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., and Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., in a letter asking Trump to sign the resolution.
"We believe signing this bill into law would send a powerful signal to the Saudi-led coalition to bring the 4-year-old war to a close, thereby ending the world's worst humanitarian crisis, which has pushed 10 million Yemenis to the brink of famine," the letter reads.
Lee said it's long past time to end U.S. involvement in "this unauthorized, unjustified and immoral war that has caused immense human suffering."
The power to declare war, he said, rests squarely on Congress.
"With passage of this resolution, we have reasserted Congress’ constitutional role over declaring war and over putting American blood and treasure on the line," Lee said.
Lee has long called for the end of U.S. involvement in the war, saying in a speech last year that continuing to support the Saudis, especially in light of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, is "bad diplomacy."
Curtis said as a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee he has traveled around the world and witnessed firsthand the importance of supporting U.S. allies. He said he believes everything possible should be done to end the war in Yemen.
"However, I have grave concerns about the precedent this resolution would set. By using war powers tools to remove aid, instead of other legislative vehicles, we risk disrupting over 100 critical security partnerships around the world relying on those same powers," he said in a statement.12 comments on this story
Curtis said there could be unintended impacts on non-U.S. military operations by other countries. He said those supporting the resolution should consider the wider impact.
House Democrats made the issue a top priority after taking control in January amid a worsening humanitarian crisis in Yemen, where Iran-backed Houthi rebels have sought to overthrow the country’s government.
The resolution also reflects broad dissatisfaction with Trump’s foreign policy, particularly his stance on Saudi Arabia after Khashoggi's murder. Its passage marks the first time in history that a War Powers resolution will reach the president's desk, according to Politico.