But there’s even more to the Trump administration’s “Saudi Arabia First” foreign policy: Citing a provision in the Arms Export Control Act that allows the president to bypass the legislative approval process in an emergency, the administration is circumventing a block on arms sales to the Saudis.
“We have the constitutional duty to declare war and the responsibility to oversee arm sales that contravene our national security interests,” Democratic Senator Chris Murphy has complained. “If we don’t stand up to this abuse of authority, we will permanently box ourselves out of deciding who we should sell weapons to.”
Congress ought to eliminate the emergency provision. But the provision’s existence does not justify its invocation when there is no actual emergency. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the weapons are needed to deter Iran, but that hardly amounts to an immediate crisis.