July 10, 2019

Risch, Shaheen, Rubio, Coons Introduce Bill to Address Bilateral Relationship with Saudi Arabia

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has introduced legislation to address a growing gap between the United States and Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Arabia Diplomatic Review Act of 2019 (SADRA), along with original cosponsors Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Chris Coons (D-Del.). The U.S. and Saudi Arabia have a history of shared strategic interests, but the kingdom’s recent conduct has put the bilateral relationship under increasing strain, and threatens to undermine U.S. interests in the region.

“All of us in Congress agree that we need to see a change in Saudi conduct going forward,” said Risch. “The kingdom’s concerning conduct is not new, and it reached a turning point in the aftermath of Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, which was a horrendous act for which we all seek justice. This legislation is meant to address the tensions between our two nations, reevaluate our bilateral relationship, and change Saudi conduct moving forward. I am glad to have bipartisan support for this effort which would have a very real impact at a time when emotions continue to run high and there are many ideas, but few plans.”

“As concern grows over Saudi Arabia’s human rights abuses and alarming neglect of international norms, Congress must take additional steps to encourage the administration to reevaluate the relationship between our two nations,” said Shaheen. “The United States cannot ignore the Kingdom’s actions, and this bill sends a clear, bipartisan message to Saudi Arabia’s leadership. I appreciate the efforts of all my colleagues in the Senate who are working on various ways to address Saudi Arabia’s behavior. This bipartisan legislation is a means toward forcing accountability and I hope it will come before the Senate floor for consideration.”

“It’s long overdue for the U.S. to conduct a thorough review of our relationship with Saudi Arabia under Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman," said Rubio. "From the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi to the jailing and alleged torture of women’s rights activists and to other abuses domestically and abroad, the Saudi government's human rights abuses and violations of international norms continue to raise alarms and run counter to America’s long-term interest for stability in the region. I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing legislation to evaluate the strategic partnership between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, and hold those Saudi officials implicated in human rights abuses accountable."

“I am pleased to be a part of this bipartisan effort to recalibrate our relationship with Saudi Arabia,” said Coons. “The United States and the Kingdom have worked together to advance our shared interests in the Middle East since the 1930s. But in light of recent challenges to the relationship and concerning Saudi actions, it is important that the Congress and the administration work together to reassess our partnership. I look forward to working on this legislation in the Foreign Relations Committee and advancing the bill to the Senate floor.” 

This legislation addresses growing concerns that recent Saudi conduct threatens to harm U.S. interests in the Middle East. The bill calls for a comprehensive and strategic review of U.S.-Saudi relations and implements a visa restriction in order to affect changes in conduct. The legislation revokes or denies visas issued to members of the Saudi royal family serving in the equivalent of executive schedule or senior executive service positions, including spouses or children. Additionally, the Saudi Arabia Diplomatic Review Act addresses the ongoing war in Yemen, protection of civilians, and the flow of humanitarian aid.

The bill is available on the SFRC website, and will soon be online at Congress.gov.

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