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Sens. Bernie Sanders and Mike Lee want to end military intervention in Yemen

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) said the attempt to withdraw most U.S. forces from Yemen “is neither liberal, nor conservative. It’s constitutional.” (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Two senators who agree on little else are introducing a resolution designed to end the U.S. intervention in Yemen’s civil war.

On Wednesday afternoon, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) announced an effort to invoke the War Powers Resolution and end intervention in Yemen, which began during the Obama administration under the post-9/11 Authorization of Military Force.

“This legislation is neither liberal, nor conservative,” said Lee at a Wednesday afternoon news conference. “It’s constitutional.”

The Sanders-Lee effort largely mirrors a House resolution, with 50 co-sponsors — almost all of them Democrats — introduced last year by Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.). The directive is clear: “Congress hereby directs the President to remove United States Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen, except United States Armed Forces engaged in operations directed at al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula or associated forces.”

“If you look at the War Powers Act, what America is currently involved in constitutes a military action,” Sanders said. “That’s pretty clear.”

While members of both parties have criticized the Yemen intervention, it’s unclear how Sanders and Lee’s resolution could get a vote. On Wednesday, they said frankly that they would try to move it through the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where it could be tabled, ending the debate. But broader efforts to rethink or cancel the entire AUMF have gotten nowhere; a focus on Yemen, they argued, could break the logjam.

“We have to deal with these conflict by conflict,” Lee said.

“If we can establish this principle,” Sanders said, “it will be a significant departure in policy for the United States.”