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US Senate to vote on blocking Saudi arms sales

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The US Senate will vote Thursday on whether to block $8.1 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia and other Arab allies, a lawmaker said, as legislators’ outrage with the kingdom grows.

Robert Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that Mitch McConnell, the leader of the Republican-led Senate, had agreed to allow votes on the 22 arms sales that critics say will aggravate the devastating war in Yemen.

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“I want to thank the bipartisan group of cosponsors of these resolutions, the majority leader and our staffs for diligently working through this unprecedented process,” Menendez said late Wednesday on the Senate floor.

President Donald Trump’s administration took the extraordinary step of bypassing Congress to approve the sale of aircraft support maintenance, munitions and other weapons to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as well as a transfer of existing weapons to Jordan.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the administration was responding to an emergency caused by Saudi Arabia’s historic rival Iran, which backs the Huthi rebels in Yemen.

Senators, including some Republicans, said there were no legitimate grounds to circumvent Congress, which has the right to disapprove arms sales.

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But it will remain a long haul for Congress to come up with a two-thirds vote to overcome a potential veto by Trump.

Critics say that the weapons will help Saudi Arabia mount its offensive in Yemen, where millions remain on the brink of starvation in what the United Nations calls the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophe.


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2020 Election

A historian of Nazi Germany explains why the divided opposition to Trump should terrify you

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As we witnessed in the third Democratic primary debate last week, Democratic presidential candidates are struggling to distinguish themselves from their party rivals and competing for endorsements. Their horizontal vision in these disagreements diverts their gaze from the peril we face as Donald Trump dismantles the norms that have guided our political life since 1776.

Whatever their differences, Democratic candidates must agree to broad principles related to key issues, for example, immigration, health care, and the growing wealth gap. A general consensus would leave plenty of room for healthy debates about implementation, but failure to emphasize shared ideals in relationship to two or three major questions will blunt Democrats’ offensive against a candidate whose campaign is based on slander and fear.

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2020 Election

Trump’s longshot bid to win New Mexico has political leaders baffled: ‘He’s a batsh*t racist’

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Despite losing New Mexico by eight points in the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump and his campaign manager Brad Pascale are making big plans to win the state in 2020 -- and that has political observers baffled.

With Trump appearing in New Mexico on Monday night, Politico reports the president has his work cut out for him in a state that saw the GOP lose the governorship and one House seat in 2018.

"The Land of Enchantment has voted for a Republican presidential candidate only once since 1992. With a considerable nonwhite voter population and all-Democratic congressional delegation, it’s not exactly fertile ground for a surprise GOP victory," the report notes before adding that Parscale feels they can make inroads this go-around.

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Commentary

Why won’t the Democrats talk openly about impeachment?

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The ABC/Univision Democratic debate last week ran a bit more smoothly than the previous two, even managing to squeeze in a decent discussion on climate change and Afghanistan policy. These events are always more theater than substance, particularly with so many people on the stage. But early debates in the primary season are where engaged partisan voters outside the early states get a chance to see the larger field of candidates and develop a sense of where the party's center of gravity is in the current election cycle.

This article was originally published at Salon

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