President Donald Trump on Tuesday vetoed a resolution passed by Congress to end US military assistance in the war in Yemen.
Passing the never-before-used war powers resolution was viewed as a milestone for lawmakers, who have shown a renewed willingness to assert their war-making authority after letting it atrophy for decades under presidents from both parties.
But the veto – the second in Trump’s presidency – was expected, and Congress lacked the votes to override it.
“This resolution is an unnecessary, dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities, endangering the lives of American citizens and brave service members, both today and in the future,” Trump wrote in explaining his veto.
Trump said the measure was unnecessary because, except for counterterrorism operations against ISIS militants and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the United States is not engaged in hostilities in or affecting Yemen.
He said there were no US military personnel in Yemen accompanying the Arab Coalition fighting Iran-backed Houthis, although he acknowledged that the US has provided limited support to the coalition, including intelligence sharing, logistics support, and – until recently – in-flight refueling of non-US aircraft.
The president also said that the measure would harm bilateral relations and interferes with his constitutional power as commander in chief.
He said the US is providing the support to protect the safety of more than 80,000 Americans who live in certain areas of the coalition countries subject to Houthi attacks from Yemen.
“Houthis, supported by Iran, have used missiles, armed drones and explosive boats to attack civilian and military targets in those coalition countries, including areas frequented by American citizens, such as the airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia,” Trump said. “In addition, the conflict in Yemen represents a ‘cheap’ and inexpensive way for Iran to cause trouble for the United States and for our ally, Saudi Arabia.”
House approval of the resolution came earlier this month on a 247-175 vote. The Senate vote last month was 54-46.
Meanwhile, United Arab Emirates Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash hailed President Donald Trump’s veto.
“President Trump’s assertion of support to the Arab Coalition in Yemen is a positive signal,” Gargash said on Twitter early on Wednesday.