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Bernie Sanders says he is in the ‘somewhat uncomfortable’ position of agreeing with Rand Paul


Bernie Sanders says he is in the ‘somewhat uncomfortable’ position of agreeing with Rand Paul in opposition to Saudi arms deal’s passing

  • The Senate on Tuesday night turned down a bipartisan effort to block a $650 billion weapons sale to the Saudi government 
  • Supporters of the resolution had wanted to block the sale that includes 280 air-to-air missiles due to the Saudis’ involvement in the civil war in Yemen  
  • The amendment, put forth by Paul, Sanders and Sen. Mike Lee, failed 30-67 
  • The decade-long war between the Saudi-backed government and the Iranian-backed Houthis has led to a humanitarian crisis 
  • ‘We should stop selling them any weapons until they stop starving the country of Yemen,’ Paul said 
  • ‘I find myself in the somewhat uncomfortable and unusual position of agreeing with Senator Paul,’ Sanders added on the Senate floor  


Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Rand Paul made for strange bedfellows this week as they voiced outrage over the Senate‘s approval of an arms deal with Saudi Arabia.

The Senate on Tuesday night turned down a bipartisan effort to block a $650 billion weapons sale to the Saudi government. Supporters of the resolution had wanted to block the sale that includes 280 air-to-air missiles made by Raytheon Technologies due to the Saudis’ involvement in the civil war in Yemen. 

The amendment, put forth by Paul, Sanders and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, failed 30-67. 

The decade-long war between the Saudi-backed government and the Iranian-backed Houthis has led to a humanitarian crisis. Now more than 80% of Yemenis live below the poverty line,  in large part due to a Saudi blockade of Yemen’s ports. The civil war has caused the death of some 233,000 Yemenis, according to United Nations statistics, largely due to lack of food or health care.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.

Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Rand Paul made for strange bedfellows this week as they voiced outrage over the Senate’s approval of an arms deal with Saudi Arabia

‘We are complicit. We are arming the Saudis and allowing this to happen. Offensive, defensive, they shouldn’t get any of our weapons,’ Paul, R-Ky., said on the Senate floor Tuesday. ‘We should stop selling them any weapons until they stop starving the country of Yemen.’ 

‘President Biden said he would change the Trump policy of supporting Saudi’s war in Yemen, but it’s not at all that apparent that policy has changed,’ Paul said ahead of the vote. 

Sanders, I-Vt., said on the floor: ‘I find myself in the somewhat uncomfortable and unusual position of agreeing with Senator Paul.’ 

He added: ‘And let me thank him and Senator [Mike] Lee for their hard work in reclaiming Congress’s congressional war powers, another very important issue. The understanding that it is Congress that has the constitutional responsibility to authorize war, not the president, should in fact transcend partisan disagreements.’

Devastation from an airstrike by the Saudi-backed fighters on a site alleged to be used by Houthi members is pictured above

Devastation from an airstrike by the Saudi-backed fighters on a site alleged to be used by Houthi members is pictured above 

Pro-Houthis Yemenis shout slogans as they burn US and Israeli flags during an anti-US and Saudi Arabia protest in November

Pro-Houthis Yemenis shout slogans as they burn US and Israeli flags during an anti-US and Saudi Arabia protest in November 

Houthis-allied Yemenis rallied in Sana'a against the alleged US military support for the Saudi-led coalition

Houthis-allied Yemenis rallied in Sana’a against the alleged US military support for the Saudi-led coalition 

‘It is long past time that we took a very hard look at our relationship with Saudi Arabia, a country whose government represents the very opposite of what we process to believe,’ Sanders said.

Presidents for decades have reaffirmed the importance of a strategic alliance with Saudi Arabia in the Middle East. Tensions between Washington and Riyadh have risen over the past few months, largely due to surging oil prices. 

Biden himself pledged to stop weapons sales to the Saudis in November 2019, but since taking office has changed his tune. 

He said on the campaign trail two years ago that he was going to make the Saudis ‘pariahs’  and was ‘not going to, in fact, sell more weapons to them.’ 

But in a statement opposing the resolution to block the sale underscored the sale is for defense purposes.

It is ‘fully consistent with the Administration’s pledge to lead with diplomacy to end conflict in Yemen and end U.S. support for offensive operations in the war in Yemen, while also ensuring that Saudi Arabia has the means to defend itself from Iranian-backed Houthi air attack,’ the White House said. 

Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who supports the sale, said lawmakers should be ‘wary of turning our backs on long-time partners.’  

‘Here’s what our colleagues’ resolution would actually do; it would give the world yet another reason to doubt the resolve of the United States of America,’ he said. 

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