Trump administration considers ending Congress' review of arms sales:
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[June 26, 2020]
By Patricia Zengerle
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald
Trump's administration is considering ending a long-standing system for
congressional review of foreign weapons sales, congressional aides said
on Thursday, a plan that would face stiff opposition from his fellow
Republicans as well as Democrats.
For four decades, leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations and House of
Representatives Foreign Affairs committees have had the right to review,
and block, weapons sales under an informal review process.
The White House, frustrated over delays in sales to Saudi Arabia in
particular, is considering whether to end that process, although it has
not made a final decision.
The administration's discussions were first reported by Foreign Policy.
"There is a fear that has existed for quite a long time that the
administration would end this," one aide told Reuters.
Congressional aides said ending the review process was opposed by
members of both parties in both the Republican-led Senate and
Democratic-led House of Representatives.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment.
A year ago, Trump infuriated lawmakers by declaring a national emergency
in order to complete $8 billion in military sales to Saudi Arabia and
other Gulf states.
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President Donald Trump speaks during a joint news conference with
Poland's President Andrzej Duda in the Rose Garden of the White
House in Washington, U.S., June 24, 2020. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Members of Congress had delayed sales of military equipment to the
region, angry about the war in Yemen as well as rights abuses like
the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at a Saudi consulate.
Military aid was also integral to Trump's impeachment last year,
which centered on whether he had held up such aid to Ukraine to
exert political pressure on its government.
Senator Bob Menendez, the top Foreign Relations Democrat, has placed
"holds" on sales to Saudi Arabia, citing rights concerns.
"The American public has a right to insist that the sales of U.S.
weapons to foreign governments are consistent with U.S. values and
national security objectives. Consequently, the Congress is charged
with exercising effective oversight of such sales," Menendez said.
(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Alistair Bell)
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