GOP chairman introduces bill to force ‘comprehensive review’ of U.S.-Saudi relationship


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Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim RischJames (Jim) Elroy RischThe Hill’s Morning Report – Democrats assail border conditions as Congress returns to work Meet the key Senate player in GOP fight over Saudi Arabia Trump, Congress set for new showdown on Saudi Arabia MORE (R-Idaho) introduced legislation Wednesday to force the Trump administration to undergo a “comprehensive review” of the U.S.-Saudi relationship.

“This legislation calls for a comprehensive review of U.S.-Saudi relations,” Risch said during a Foreign Relations Committee hearing.

The bill requires the Trump administration to submit a report to Congress within 270 days that reviews the foreign policy goals of Saudi Arabia and if they align with the United States, the level of risk to the United States created by Saudi Arabia’s actions and an evaluation of Saudi Arabia’s record on human rights. 

It would also deny or revoke visas to members of the Saudi royal family who serve in the Saudi government in positions equivalent to a deputy secretary or agency chief. But, the bill would let President TrumpDonald John TrumpS&P 500 breaks 3,000 for first time Strife between Seoul and Tokyo makes Kim Jong Un’s DMZ victory even more valuable Chamber of Commerce hires former Giuliani, Cruz campaign aide MORE waive that provision if he deems it’s in the national interest.

Risch’s bill comes as lawmakers have struggled to find legislation to address Saudi Arabia that could both pass Congress and win over the White House.

The Senate has passed resolutions this year to block Trump’s arms sales to Saudi Arabia and force Trump to yank U.S. support for the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen.

But Trump vetoed the Yemen resolution and is expected to also veto the attempt to block the arms deal. Congress did not have the votes to override his Yemen veto, and will again not have the votes to override him on the arms deal.

On Yemen, Risch’s legislation requires the administration to provide a briefing to lawmakers about the progress made toward ending the war and would slap sanctions on individuals who are knowingly blocking humanitarian aid.

The U.S.-Saudi relationship has been a point of contention between Trump and lawmakers in the wake of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi’s killing at the Saudi embassy in Turkey last year.

Risch is expected to give his bill a mark up in committee as soon as next week, where he’ll need a majority to beat back a Democratic counterproposal and advance his bill to the full Senate.

In addition to Risch, Sens. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioA better way to protect small businesses from cyberattacks Hillicon Valley: Appeals court rules Trump can’t block people on Twitter | Tech giants to testify in House antitrust investigation | DHS set for grilling over facial recognition tech | Commerce to allow sales to Huawei Government to issue licenses for business with Huawei MORE (R-Fla.), Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenPoliticians cheer USWNT over defeating England, qualifying for World Cup final Democracy reform subtly defines the presidential primary Can new US Strategy on Women, Peace & Security give women a real seat at the table? Ask Afghan women MORE (D-N.H.) and Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsGOP chairman introduces bill to force ‘comprehensive review’ of U.S.-Saudi relationship UK health service to use Amazon Alexa to give medical advice Sunday shows – Amash, immigration dominate MORE (D-Del.) are backing the legislation.

A majority of the panel is also backing legislation from Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezSenate passes .5B border bill, setting up fight with House Senate to vote on blocking Trump’s Saudi arms deal as soon as this week There is a severe physician shortage and it will only worsen MORE (D-N.J.) and Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungMeet the key Senate player in GOP fight over Saudi Arabia Congress needs to repeal the 2002 Iraq Authorization for Use of Military Force Senate Democrats wish talk on reparations would go away MORE (R-Ind.) that includes automatic sanctions and a temporary suspension of arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

Risch praised his colleagues on Wednesday, saying he “sought broad input” and that Democrats have been “very helpful in trying to craft legislation.”

“[But] I urge us all to seek measured solutions to these difficult challenges and avoid inadvertently strengthening our adversaries or damaging our partners and allies,” he said during Wednesday’s committee hearing.

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