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Despite Murphy Attempt To Block, Senate Approves $500M Saudi Arms Deal

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The U.S. Senate narrowly voted on Tuesday to back President Donald Trump's plan to sell more than $500 million in precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia. The approval came despite a bipartisan effort by Senator Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and Senator Rand Paul, R-Ky., to derail the deal.

Both Senators Murphy and Paul are critical of Saudi Arabia's role in Yemen's civil war. During the floor debate, they argued against the deal. They claimed the Saudis have been involved in human rights abuses. Murphy specifically cited Saudi bombing campaigns that have targeted civilian facilities, including a water treatment plant in the Yemeni capital that led to a cholera outbreak. The Connecticut Democrat said that’s why the Obama administration had refused to sell the sophisticated weapons to the Saudis.

“And so what we are asking for is to hold off on selling these precision-guided munitions until we get some clear promise, some clear assurance, from the Saudis that they are going to use these munitions only for military purposes.”      

The majority were not persuaded and voted 53-47 to approve the deal. The deal is part of the Trump administration's proposed $110 billion arms package to Saudi Arabia. The administration says the sale would create American jobs and improve a key ally's military capability.

As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year.