Murphy argued the $650 million sale of air-to-air missiles to Saudi Arabia is for “defensive weapons” against Yemen’s Houthis.

By Sara Sirota and Austin Ahlman, The Intercept

The Senate tonight voted 67-30 against a resolution to ban a $650 million air-to-air missile sale to Saudi Arabia approved by the State Department.

The resolution was introduced last month by Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky.; Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.; and Mike Lee, R-Utah. “A message needs to be sent to Saudi Arabia that we don’t approve of their war with Yemen,” Paul said at the time. “By participating in this sale, we would not only be rewarding reprehensible behavior, but also exacerbating a humanitarian crisis in Yemen.”

pro war chris murphy and pro peace chris murphy

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who partnered with Sanders and Lee in November 2018 to invoke the 1973 War Powers Resolution to prohibit U.S. participation in the Saudi bombing offensive in Yemen, notably didn’t back his colleagues in this latest effort.

His vote of opposition represents a significant shift for Murphy, who claimed in an email to The Intercept last month explaining his support of the sale: “I have been the leading critic of Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen.

“This is a true defensive weapons sale,” he told The Intercept ahead of the vote. “And with the increased pace of Houthi drones coming into Saudi territory, it is actually important for them to have the ability to shoot them.” The Houthis are an Iran-backed Shia movement that pushed the Saudi-backed Yemen government out of power in 2014.

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