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I am returning herewith without my approval S.J. Res. 36, a joint resolution that would prohibit the issuance of certain licenses with respect to several proposed agreements or transfers to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Kingdom of Spain, and the Italian Republic.  This resolution would weaken America’s global competitiveness and damage the important relationships we share with our allies and partners.

In particular, S.J. Res. 36 would prohibit licensing for manufacturing in Saudi Arabia of Guidance Electronics Detector Assemblies, Computer Control Groups, Airfoil Groups, Aircraft Umbilical Interconnect Systems, Fuses, and other components to support the production of Paveway II, Enhanced Paveway II, and Paveway IV munitions.  The misguided licensing prohibitions in the joint resolution directly conflict with the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States, which include strengthening defense alliances with friendly countries throughout the world, deepening partnerships that preserve and extend our global influence, and enhancing our competitiveness in key markets.  Apart from negatively affecting our bilateral relationships with Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, Spain, and Italy, the joint resolution would hamper the ability of the United States to sustain and shape critical security cooperation activities.  S.J. Res. 36 would also damage the credibility of the United States as a reliable partner by signaling that we are willing to abandon our partners and allies at the very moment when threats to them are increasing.

The United States is providing the licenses that the joint resolution seeks to prohibit for many reasons.  First and foremost, it is our solemn duty to protect the safety of the more than 80,000 United States citizens who reside in Saudi Arabia and who are imperiled by Houthi attacks from Yemen.  The Houthis, supported by Iran, have attacked civilian and military facilities using missiles, armed drones, and explosive boats, including in areas frequented by United States citizens, such as the airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.  Second, the joint resolution would degrade Saudi Arabia’s military preparedness and ability to protect its sovereignty, directly affecting its ability to defend United States military personnel hosted there.  Third, Saudi Arabia is a bulwark against the malign activities of Iran and its proxies in the region, and the licenses the joint resolution would prohibit enhance Saudi Arabia’s ability to deter and defend against these threats.

In addition, S.J. Res. 36 would negatively affect our NATO Allies and the transatlantic defense industry.  It could, for example, produce unintended consequences for defense procurement and interoperability with and between our partners.  It could also create diplomatic and security opportunities for our adversaries to exploit.

Finally, by restricting the ability of our partners to produce and purchase precision-guided munitions, S.J. Res. 36 would likely prolong the conflict in Yemen and deepen the suffering it causes.  By undermining bilateral relationships of the United States and impeding our ability to support key partners at a critical time, the joint resolution would harm — not help — efforts to end the conflict in Yemen.  And without precision-guided munitions, more — not fewer — civilians are likely to become casualties of the conflict.  While I share concerns that certain Members of Congress have expressed about civilian casualties of this conflict, the United States has taken and will continue to take action to minimize such casualties, including training and advising Saudi-led Coalition forces to improve their targeting processes.

The United States is very concerned about the conflict’s toll on innocent civilians and is working to bring the conflict in Yemen to an end.  But we cannot end it through ill-conceived and time-consuming resolutions that fail to address its root causes.  Rather than expend time and resources on such resolutions, I encourage the Congress to direct its efforts toward supporting our work to achieve peace through a negotiated settlement to the conflict in Yemen.

For these reasons, it is my duty to return S.J. Res. 36 to the Senate without my approval.


July 24, 2019.