The Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s top Democrat and a close congressional ally of President Trump are teaming up to try to block 22 arms deals largely benefiting Saudi Arabia, a move that seeks to quash the administration’s attempt to use emergency powers to circumvent congressional objections.
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said in an interview Tuesday that he would introduce “22 resolutions of disapproval” — one for each deal the Trump administration informed lawmakers last month it would push through, raising objections from Democrats and Republicans.
Joining him in the effort is Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), who said Tuesday that he is “on board with Menendez.” Graham, one of Trump’s closest allies in Congress, also has been one of the most vocal critics of his embrace of Saudi leaders, particularly in the wake of last year’s brutal killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Menendez and Graham’s plans, for which they expect to enlist more bipartisan support, come as details emerge regarding seven secret nuclear technology transfers the Trump administration approved for Saudi Arabia — two of them following Khashoggi’s death.
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), citing information from the Department of Energy, announced Tuesday that the Trump administration had allowed U.S. nuclear energy companies to share technology and other information with Saudi Arabia on Oct. 18, 2018 — just 16 days after Khashoggi was killed at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul — and again Feb. 18, 2019, less than a week after the House voted to end U.S. backing for the Saudi-led military effort in Yemen’s civil war.
A spokesman for the Energy Department did not immediately return a request for comment.