Senate votes to uphold arms sales to Qatar, Bahrain


The Senate on Thursday rejected an effort led by Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican, to block President Trump’s arms deal to Qatar and Bahrain.

The pair of resolutions that failed in the vote were meant to stop the Trump administration from making the sale, but are part of an ongoing message to the White House about limiting arms sales to Middle East countries.

Mr. Paul’s legislation would have stopped a $750 million sale to Bahrain of guided bombs and air-to-ground missiles, and a $3 billion sale of Apache Attack helicopters and Hellfire missiles to Qatar, according to the senator’s office.

“What kind of bizarre world do we live in that we are arming people who arm our enemies,” Mr. Paul said ahead of the vote.

Lawmaker opposition to arms control sales to Gulf countries has expanded since Congress restricted roughly $2 billion worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia over concerns the kingdom was using them in the ongoing military campaign in Yemen and in response to the murder of U.S.-based dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Sen. Jim Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, voted against the resolution and argued in favor of the deal that he said “can improve cooperation … and help our partners defend themselves and American troops in the region.”

Earlier this week, a bipartisan group of House lawmakers introduced legislation that would block the Trump administration’s move to sell $8 billion worth of weapons to Gulf countries.

The bill aims to stop all 22 sales, including the transfer of precision-guided munitions, to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

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