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Friday, May 24, 2024

US Congress divided on Yemen bombing

The raids follow a series of attacks on commercial vessels by Yemeni militants

Lawmakers in Washington have given mixed reactions to a series of US and UK strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen, with some questioning whether President Joe Biden had full authorization for the move.

The US Air Force’s Mideast command said it struck over 60 targets at 16 sites in Yemen on Thursday night, including “command-and-control nodes, munitions depots, launching systems, production facilities and air defense radar systems.”

Read more: US-UK Strikes in Yemen Escalate Oil Prices and Global Trade Concerns

President Joe Biden said the strikes – involving Tomahawk missiles and fighter jets – were intended to show that the US and its allies “will not tolerate” Houthi militant attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea, and stressed that the decision was taken after attempted negotiations. The Yemeni group claims it has been targeting Israeli-linked vessels over the conflict in Gaza.

While a number of Republicans were critical of the operation – among them libertarian-leaning Representative Thomas Massie – several members of Biden’s own party also slammed the decision.

Democratic Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib argued that Biden lacked the authority to approve the military action, saying he was “violating Article I of the Constitution” and that Americans were “tired of endless war.”

Other Democrats, including Ro Khanna, Val Hoyle and Mark Pocan, made a similar case, with Khanna penning a lengthy post on X (formerly Twitter) arguing that Biden “needs to come to Congress before launching a strike against the Houthis in Yemen and involving us in another Middle East conflict.” “That is Article I of the Constitution. I will stand up for that regardless of whether a Democrat or Republican is in the White House,” he added.

Read more: US, British forces shoot down 21 drones and missiles fired from Yemen

Republican Senator Mike Lee later weighed in on the strikes, saying: “I totally agree with [Ro Khanna]. The Constitution matters, regardless of party affiliation.”

Republicans Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene also criticized the military action. “Biden can not solely decide to bomb Yemen,” Greene said.

Democratic Party Rep. Sara Jacobs said the Biden administration had a “solemn responsibility to protect our service members in harm’s way, and free and open laws of the sea.” Jacobs said “congressional leadership was briefed” before the attack, and stressed that “Congress alone authorizes war.”

Thursday night’s raids follow a series of attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea by Houthi militants, who control parts of Yemen. The armed group has vowed to strike vessels affiliated with Israel amid the Israel-Gaza conflict, which erupted after a Hamas terrorist attack last October.