The Senate officially isn't happy with President Trump's planned arms sales to Saudi Arabia, but not by a big enough margin to overcome an expected veto. Seven Republican senators joined Democrats in voting 53-45 on two resolutions to disapprove of the sales, reports the Hill. They were Susan Collins, Lindsey Graham, Mike Lee, Jerry Moran, Lisa Murkowski, Rand Paul, and Todd Young. A third vote disapproving of the additional 20 contracts passed 51-45, with Murkowski flipping to yes and Lee abstaining. These Republicans, along with Democrats, aren't happy that Trump aims to use an emergency declaration to push the sales through, instead of going through Congress as usual. However, the deal now looks like a certainty because the "no" votes are nowhere near the two-thirds necessary for an override, notes Politico.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo specifically cited threats the Saudis face from Iran—either directly or through Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen—when he announced the emergency action on the sales in May, notes the AP. And Thursday's vote comes amid the backdop of raised tensions between Tehran and the US as well. "To reject these sales at this time and under these circumstances is to reward recent Iranian aggression and to encourage further Iranian escalation," said Sen. Jim Risch of Idaho, GOP chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Another factor in all this: The killing of US-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi operatives also has increased opposition in Congress to helping the Saudis. (Read more Saudi Arabia stories.)