The Trump administration is considering an emergency declaration that would allow it to make an arms shipment to Saudi Arabia without the approval of Congress, two US officials and lawmakers opposed to the move said Thursday. The officials say a decision on invoking a national security waiver in the Arms Export Control Act to bypass congressional review of proposed sales to the Saudis could be made as early as Friday, the AP reports. The officials were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. It was not immediately clear what sales would be covered by the possible waiver, which could allow previously blocked weapons transfers to move forward or be applied to new ones. A sale of precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia has been on hold for over a year.
Congressional opposition to US military support for Saudi Arabia has been growing and lawmakers have blocked about $2 billion in arms sales to the kingdom for more than a year due to concerns over civilian casualties in the Saudi-led military operation in Yemen and outrage over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October by Saudi agents. President Trump last month vetoed legislation that would have ended US military assistance for the Saudi-led war in Yemen against Iran-backed rebels but administration officials have complained that sales remain blocked. The law requires Congress to be notified of potential arms sales, giving the body the opportunity to block the sale. But the law also allows the president to waive that review process by declaring an emergency that requires the sale be made "in the national security interests of the United States."
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