As anticipated, President Trump on Friday declared a national emergency in response to rising tensions between the United States and Iran, allowing him to complete the sale of over $8 billion worth of weapons to Iran's regional rival, Saudi Arabia, as well as the United Arab Emirates and Jordan, all despite congressional objections.
Congress had blocked the sale of offensive weaponry to Saudi Arabia and the UAE for months as a result of those countries' air campaigns in Yemen and other human rights abuses. But Trump used a loophole to circumvent Congress and go ahead with the sale.
The emergency declaration was met with bipartisan disapproval. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), said there is no new emergency reason to supply Saudi Arabia with arms and "doing so only perpetuates the humanitarian crisis" in Yemen. Rep. Mike McCaul (R-Texas) called the decision "unfortunate" and said he would have preferred the Trump administration "utilize the long-established and codified arms sale review process."
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the sales were necessary to deter Iran, but that the decision to side step Congress was a "one-time event." Tim O'Donnell
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said during a speech at the Southern Kentucky Lincoln Day Dinner in Bowling Green, Kentucky, on Saturday that he would vote to reject President Trump's national emergency declaration, The Bowling Green Daily Newsreported.
Paul became the fourth Republican senator to come out against Trump's declaration, which was put into place to secure funding for the construction of a border wall. Paul joins Republican Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), and Thom Thillis (N.C.) in allying with Senate Democrats for the upcoming vote. The four of them are enough to secure a bipartisan majority, though other Republicans remain undecided on whether or not to support the president.
"I can't vote to give the president the power to spend money that hasn't been appropriated by Congress," Paul said during the speech. "We may want more money for border security, but Congress didn't authorize it. If we take away those checks and balances, it's a dangerous thing." Tim O'Donnell