U.S. Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse were among the Democrats voting with Republicans Tuesday to block a move to end American support for a Saudi-led coalition in a war in Yemen.
"I share the concerns of many colleagues about the humanitarian disaster unfolding in Yemen," Whitehouse said in a statement. "I don't see how precipitous withdrawal of the limited support the U.S. military provides would make things better in achieving our humanitarian or strategic aims, and voting on it without hearings or committee work seems rash."
“It is shameful and unacceptable for Democratic senators to vote to betray veterans of the forever war, abandon their responsibility laid out in the Constitution, and hand over the keys to the most reckless and dangerous president this country has ever seen," said Common Defense spokesman Alexander McCoy, a North Kingstown native who said he is a Marine Corps veteran. "Senators like Reed and Whitehouse, who heard directly from military veteran constituents this week, have shown they would rather stand with Donald Trump than with the veteran community.”
Reed gave a lengthy statement in explaining why he opposed a move led by Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) to stop the U.S. role in Yemen, unless it involved fighting Al Qaeda.
Reed noted how more than 15,000 Yemenis have been killed in the war, according to the United Nations, and how the conflict is described as the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, with Yemen's approximately 29 million people facing food shortages.
The senator criticized the Trump administration for not offering a diplomatic strategy on ending the conflict in Yemen.
"I have significant concerns about persistent reports of civilian casualties and damage to civilian infrastructure caused by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen," Reed said. "Far too many of the strikes by the coalition have killed or injured civilians and resulted in the destruction of infrastructure needed to provide basic services to the population, thereby exacerbating the humanitarian crisis.
But he said that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates remain important partners for the U.S. and share common interests in opposing groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS.