Senator Collins Joins Bipartisan Group in Introducing Amendment to Prohibit Resumption of Refueling of Saudi Coalition Aircraft in Yemen Civil War

Amendment to Sanders-Lee Joint Resolution Sends Bipartisan Message to Saudis to Support Urgent and Good Faith Negotiations to End Civil War and Address World’s Worst Humanitarian Crisis

Washington, D.C. - Today, coinciding with votes related to Senate Joint Resolution 54 (S.J.Res.54), U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Todd Young (R-IN), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Chris Coons (D-DE) introduced a bipartisan amendment to prohibit the resumption of U.S. air refueling of Saudi coalition aircraft engaged in the civil war in Yemen. In response to the argument that the U.S. is not engaged in hostilities in Yemen and that air refueling does not constitute “hostilities,” this amendment would explicitly make clear that the term “hostilities” in S.J.Res.54 includes U.S. air refueling of Saudi coalition aircraft.


“The time has come to confront one of our allies in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, over the Saudi-led war in Yemen, which has become a humanitarian disaster,” said Senator Collins. “This bipartisan legislation will place further pressure on all parties to bring hostilities in Yemen to a swift end.”


On April 11, Senators Collins, Young, Shaheen, and Coons introduced Senate Joint Resolution 58 (S.J.Res.58) and then worked to include a version of that legislation in the annual defense bill signed into law by President Trump. Section 1290 of the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 requires the Secretary of State to submit written, detailed, and unclassified certifications related to the efforts of the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to end the civil war, alleviate the humanitarian crisis, and protect civilians. If the Secretary of State cannot make these certifications, the law prohibits the U.S. from refueling Saudi coalition aircraft conducting missions exclusively focused on the civil war. 


When the Secretary of State submitted a questionable certification to Congress pursuant to Section 1290, the Senators wrote Secretary Pompeo and asked for a clarification.  


On November 9, following months of pressure, the administration announced the suspension of U.S. refueling of Saudi coalition aircraft in Yemen. However, nothing prevents the resumption of that refueling support. The Young-Shaheen-Collins-Coons amendment would prohibit the resumption of U.S. refueling support for missions not related to al Qaeda and associated forces.  


The full text of the amendment can be found HERE.