The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has announced legislation that would hold Saudi Arabia accountable for several human rights violations and prompt a review of the U.S. relationship with the oil-rich kingdom.
Sen. James Risch, Idaho Republican, rolled out the “Saudi Arabia Diplomatic Review Act” Wednesday just after the committee heard from a key State Department on controversial weapons sales to Riyadh and other Middle Eastern countries.
“It is the sense of Congress that, since the promotion of Mohammed bin Salman to the position of Crown Prince with significant authorities over foreign and domestic affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the government of Saudi Arabia has demonstrated increasingly erratic and disturbing conduct,” the bill states.
The bill, co-sponsored by Sens. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican, and Chris Coons, Delaware Democrat, would put travel restrictions on members of the country’s royal family rather than block controversial weapons sales, in an effort to encourage President Trump’s approval of the measure.
Several members of the committee have backed legislation that would halt billions of dollars worth of weapons from being sold to Saudi Arabia after the Trump administration declared an emergency under the Arms Export Control Act to push the sales through.
The latest bipartisan legislation aims to hold the Saudis liable for human rights abuses including the murder of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, its crackdown on political and women’s rights activists and its involvement in the war in Yemen that has resulted in the deaths of thousands of civilians.