On Monday, the House of Representatives took positive action by clarifying that some U.S. military operations in Yemen are unauthorized.
Sponsored by Congressman Ro Khanna, D-Calif., and carried by an overwhelming 366 votes to 30, the resolution concerns the Trump administration's provision of U.S. military refueling and targeting capabilities to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. That coalition is fighting Iranian-backed Houthi rebel groups.
The resolution does not dispute the U.S. military's authority to go after al Qaeda and Islamic State groups in Yemen. Instead, it affirms that "Whereas to date, Congress has not enacted specific legislation authorizing the use of military force against parties participating in the Yemeni civil war that are not otherwise subject to the Authorization of Use of Military Force ..." the U.S. should not be providing military support to anti-Houthi operations.
This sense of proportion is crucial in balancing U.S. security imperatives with congressional oversight of foreign policy.
Another positive is the resolution's clarification of the dire humanitarian situation in Yemen. It notes that "Whereas the war in Yemen has contributed to a humanitarian crisis in Yemen, leading to an April 2017 announcement by the World Food Program that Yemen is on the brink of full-scale famine, with approximately 7,000,000 Yemenis, including 2,200,000 children, being classified as severely food insecure; Whereas over 500,000 new cholera cases have been detected in Yemen, and approximately 2,000 people have died from cholera-related issues."
While President Trump is absolutely right to support Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, he should persuade Salman to better mitigate civilian suffering in Yemen.
The resolution is also realistic in its call for action; it focuses on the need for a peace settlement in Yemen, it recognizes Iranian malevolence in that nation, it praises Saudi efforts to more carefully target enemy positions, and it calls for improved humanitarian efforts.
Ultimately, this is Congress doing what it is supposed to do: holding the executive branch to account and ensuring that the exercise of military power is bound to vested national interests.
You can read the resolution here.