Top Senate Democrat Vows to Block All Future Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia

The Democratic chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee pledged late Monday to block all future U.S. weapons sales to Saudi Arabia as backlash over OPEC’s decision to cut oil production and push up gas pricesCapitol Hill continues to grow.

Senator Bob Menendez (D.N.J.), who holds veto power over foreign arm sales, stated in a statement that OPEC’s plan to slash production by two million barrels a day in a bid to prop up oil prices amounts to a “decision to help underwrite Putin’s war.” Russia, an OPEC ally, stands to benefitIt can benefit from higher oil prices without having its own production reduced.

“The United States must immediately freeze all aspects of our cooperation with Saudi Arabia, including any arms sales and security cooperation beyond what is absolutely necessary to defend U.S. personnel and interests,” Menendez said Monday. “As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I will not green-light any cooperation with Riyadh until the kingdom reassesses its position with respect to the war in Ukraine. Enough is enough.”

With his statement, Menendez — a war hawk — joined progressive lawmakers such as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) in demanding an end to U.S. military aid to the Saudis, the largest buyerAmerican weaponry.

On Sunday, Khanna & Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn. announced legislation that would “immediately halt all U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia.” Last week, three House Democrats introduced a billThis would require the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, a key member of the OPEC cartel.

The U.S. has approved several projects over the past few years. tens of billions of dollars worth of weapons sales to the Saudis as they’ve waged a catastrophic war on Yemen, sparking a massive humanitarian crisis. The U.S. has also partnered with the Saudis in military operations, including by refueling the oil kingdom’s warplanes, supplying fighter jet parts, and teaming up with the country’s murderous leadership to build high-tech bomb parts.

Recent congressional efforts to block arms sales to the Saudis — including major deals approved by the Biden administration — have fallen shortHowever, the OPEC decision could be a turning point. Top Democratic lawmakers are calling for a complete reevaluation U.S.-Saudi relations.

Menendez was notably present in the news a little over a year ago. opposed a Senate resolutionThis was to stop a $650 million sale to the Saudis of missiles. The bipartisan resolution ultimately failedClear the upper chamber.

In a statement last week, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) — the chamber’s second-ranking Democrat and a supporter of previous attempts to block arms sales to the Saudis — declared that “it’s time for our foreign policy to imagine a world without this alliance with these royal backstabbers.”

“From unanswered questions about 9/11, the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and the exporting of extremism, to dubious jailing of peaceful dissidents and conspiring with Vladimir Putin to punish the U.S. with higher oil prices, the Saudi royal family has never been a trustworthy ally of our nation,” Durbin said.