Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) speaks to reporters before a series of votes on legislation ending U.S. military support for the war in Yemen on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., December 13, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee is among the Republicans who have condemned Saudi Arabia after the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. © Reuters

The US Senate has voted to withdraw military support from the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, delivering a bipartisan rebuke to President Donald Trump prompted by anger over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The success of the resolution, which passed by a vote of 56 to 41 on Thursday, underlines growing divisions between Congress and the White House following Khashoggi’s death at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

It also comes in defiance of senior Trump administration officials, including Mike Pompeo, US secretary of state, and Jim Mattis, defence secretary, who have defended its backing for the Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Although supported by lawmakers from both parties, the bill is not expected to pass the House of Representatives, which will be controlled by the Republicans until January.

Saudi Arabia is facing mounting pressure over the fighting in Yemen, where it is leading a coalition locked in a conflict with rebels that has claimed thousands of lives and created a severe humanitarian crisis.

While Mr Trump has defended US support for Saudi Arabia and its de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, after Khashoggi’s killing, some senators have said they have little doubt that Prince Mohammed was involved.

Bob Corker, the Republican senator who has been among the most vocal following a CIA briefing of selected senators last week, put forward an additional resolution to hold Saudi’s crown prince accountable.

That measure, which also passed, outlined “concerning behaviour” exhibited by the kingdom, and said “misleading statements” by Saudi Arabia’s government over Khashoggi’s death had “undermined trust and confidence” between the US and Saudi.

The main resolution to withdraw military aid drew support from Republicans and Democrats.

Robert Menendez, the Democratic senator from New Jersey and a member of the foreign relations committee, said Saudi had “joined a sinister clique along with North Korea, Russia and Iran”.

“A few more weapons purchases cannot buy our silence — it should not buy our silence, and if the president will not, Congress must act,” said Mr Menendez.

Mark Warner, the Democratic vice-chair of the senate intelligence committee, said the US “should be clear” that it would not provide “unconditional assistance” to the kingdom’s operations in Yemen. He added: “The senate must send a message that America’s moral voice will not be diminished.”

Mr Trump has claimed “we may never know all of the facts” surrounding the Khashoggi’s killing, and has reiterated his staunch support for Saudi Arabia as a big oil exporter and arms buyer.

Mr Pompeo and Mr Mattis on Thursday delivered a briefing to the House, where the bill will now be considered.

On Wednesday, Mr Menendez and Lindsey Graham, the Republican senator who has said consistently that the CIA’s intelligence clearly linked the crown prince to Khashoggi’s death, and represented a “smoking saw”, said they would aim to introduce further legislation next year to further curtail US support of Saudi Arabia.

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