WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Rand Paul (R-Ky.), and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) announced they are introducing four separate Joint Resolutions of Disapproval rejecting the Trump administration’s effort to provide the United Arab Emirates with a precedent-setting aircraft and myriad other weapons systems. The bipartisan resolutions come after the Trump administration formally notified Congress of its intention to sell over $23 billion in Reaper drones and other munitions, F-35 joint strike fighter jets, and air-to-air missiles to the UAE.
In an effort to rush this sale of incredibly sophisticated weaponry, the Trump administration circumvented the informal congressional review process that grants the Congressional committees of jurisdiction time to ensure proposed arms sales of this magnitude are consistent with U.S. values, national security objectives, and the safety of our allies. The State Department and Department of Defense also refused to respond to Congressional inquiries as to how the Administration would deal with specific national security risks inherent in the proposed sale, which is comprised of the world’s most advanced stealth fighter jet, over 14,000 more deadly bombs and munitions, and the second-largest ever sale of U.S. drones to a single country.
“We are introducing these bipartisan resolutions out of a shared understanding that Congress must strongly assert its statutory authority over our nation’s foreign arms sales. As I tried to warn the Trump administration, circumventing deliberative processes for considering a massive infusion of weapons to a country in a volatile region with multiple ongoing conflicts is downright irresponsible,” said Menendez. “There are a number of outstanding concerns as to how these sales would impact the national security interests of both the United States and of Israel. As a result, Congress is once again stepping in to serve as a check to avoid putting profit over U.S. national security and that of our allies, and to hopefully prevent a new arms race in the Middle East.”
“I support the normalization of relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), but nothing in that agreement requires us to flood the region with more weapons and facilitate a dangerous arms race,” said Murphy. “The Emiratis are an important security partner, but their recent behavior indicates that these weapons may be used in violation of U.S. and international law. The UAE has violated past arms sales agreements, resulting in U.S. arms ending up in the arms of dangerous militia groups, and they have failed to comply with international law in Libya and Yemen. A sale this large and this consequential should not happen in the waning days of a lame duck presidency, and Congress must take steps to stop this dangerous transfer of weapons."
The Arms Export Control Act of 1976 provides special procedures through which lawmakers can introduce a joint resolution of disapproval against a proposed arm sale. In the Senate, a resolution can be discharged from the Committee of jurisdiction, forcing a vote on the Senate floor.
Last month, Ranking Member Menendez and Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Jack Reed (D-R.I.) sent a long list of detailed questions to Secretary of State Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Esper regarding this sale, expressing their concern that the internal process was being rushed and demanding answers as to how the Administration would safeguard the U.S.’s and Israel’s critical military technology inherent in these aircraft. Senator Menendez was then joined by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) in introducing the Secure F-35 Exports Act of 2020, legislation to strengthen Congressional oversight over the sale of sophisticated and mission-critical American military systems.