- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The top Democrat on the SenateForeign Relations Committee revealed Wednesday he will vote against the $110-billion weapons deal President Trump signed with Saudi Arabia on his recent Middle East trip.

The announcement by Sen. Ben Cardin, Maryland Democrat, comes as the Senate is set to vote Thursday on a resolution of disapproval for the deal, which would represent a marked about-face for U.S.-Saudi relations after a tense period under former President Obama.

Mr. Cardin, a leading liberal voice on foreign policy, said in a statement that establishing a “political process” is a more effective way of navigating the turmoil in Saudi Arabia than military action. More specifically, he criticized the White House’s policy, asserting that funneling weapons into the unsettled region will not solve nothing.

“I am equally concerned that today we are no closer to a political process to end the conflict, while there is broad consensus that there is no possibility of a decisive military victory by any stakeholder to the conflict,” Mr. Cardin said.

Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, joined by Democrats Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Al Franken of Minnesota, introduced a joint resolution of disapproval two weeks ago to try to block the sale.

But the economic and political benefits of the deal are expected to overcome the opposition, and the disapproval resolution is not expected to pass. When the resolution was first brought up, SenateForeign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, Tennessee Republican, said he believed most people on the panel support the sale, TheHill.com reported.

The White House has defended the deal as key to a larger strategy of rallying Muslim nations to aid the fight against radical terrorists and to contain Iran’s ambitions in the region.

This sale “bolsters the [Saudi Arabia‘s] ability to provide for its own security,” according to a White House statement, “and to continue contributing to counterterrorism operations across the region, reducing the burden on U.S. military forces.”

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