The Trump administration has asked Congress to review the planned sale of more than 120,000 precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates amid concerns of their use in Yemen, according to a report.
President Donald Trump views weapons export as a way to create jobs in the United States and his administration has approved billions of dollars in arms sales since January 2017.
In November, Saudi Arabia agreed to purchase $7 billion worth of precision-guided munitions from US-based companies Raytheon and Boeing.
The Trump administration approved the sale, but the deal raised concerns on Capitol Hill over American weapons being used in the Saudi-led war in Yemen, which has left more than 14,000 dead since March 2015.
Under the Arms Export Control Act, the US State Department reviews potential arms sales to ensure they are in line with US foreign policy objectives before issuing export licenses. The department then notifies Congress about large arms sales, giving lawmakers time to review them.
Administration and congressional sources confirmed to Reuters that the informal 40-day review period to sell the guided bombs to the Saudis and Emiratis was underway.
The Senate Foreign Relations and House Foreign Affairs committees have been briefed by the administration, but lawmakers have asked for more information on the sales.
Key members of Congress, including leaders of the two committees, are allowed to informally review major weapons sales, and at times they have objected to sales and held them up for months.
Republican Senator Bob Corker, who chairs the Foreign Relations Committee, blocked major sales to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other Persian Gulf nations last year over a diplomatic dispute with Qatar, but lifted his “hold” early this year.
Congress can only halt a president’s push for arms sales by passing legislation to block a deal. Lawmakers have never passed such measure.