July 14, 2017
Press Release


WASHINGTON - Today, Congressman Ted W. Lieu (D | Los Angeles County) issued the following statement in response to the House passage of his amendment (#93) to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 that requires the Departments of Defense and State to report to Congress on whether the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners are abiding by their commitments in Yemen.

“Today, we have achieved an important victory for the civilians of Yemen and for accountability in our foreign arms sales. Despite years of documentation that the Saudi-led coalition operating in Yemen has failed to avoid civilian casualties, this Administration has refused to answer basic questions about the coalition’s track record as it has continued selling them weapons. I am proud that the House has adopted my amendment to this year’s defense authorization bill to require basic answers and bring accountability to both the coalition in Yemen and the Administration supporting it. We must never allow arms sales to move forward – even to U.S. allies – if we do not have absolute confidence in our partner’s willingness and ability to avoid civilian casualties.”

In May 2017, following extensive Congressional concern over the operational conduct of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, Saudi Foreign Minister al-Jubeir sent a letter to Secretary Tillerson with a list of commitments the Saudis were taking to improve their targeting capabilities and avoid civilian casualties. Those commitments included abiding by a No Strike List and Restricted Target List of over 33,000 targets and increasing their vetting of targets. Congressman Lieu’s amendment to the FY18 NDAA, which passed by voice vote, requires the Departments of Defense and State to submit a joint report to Congress every six months on whether the coalition is abiding by those commitments.

In April 2017, Congressman Lieu led a letter with a bipartisan group of 30 Members of Congress to Secretary of Defense Mattis and Secretary of State Tillerson requesting information related to the operational conduct of the Royal Saudi Air Force in Yemen.

In August 2016, Congressman Lieu led a bipartisan group of 64 Members of Congress in sending a letter to President Barack Obama urging him to postpone the sale of new arms to Saudi Arabia. The letter raised concerns regarding the Saudi-led Coalition’s killing of civilians. Previously, Congressman Lieu had repeatedly raised similar concerns, sending letters to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretaries John Kerry and Ash Carter. He also introduced legislation to establish new guidelines for weapons sales to Saudi Arabia.