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U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs

01/13/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 01/13/2021 17:42

House Foreign Affairs Top Democrats Demand Stop to Trump Administration Arms Sales

Washington-Representative Gregory W. Meeks, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today led the Democratic leaders of the Committee in demanding a full stop to Trump administration authorizations for arms exports in the waning days of the administration. In a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the lawmakers underscored that any last-minute arms sale notifications would not provide adequate time for full congressional oversight and warned that any cases pushed through by the administration without bipartisan congressional support would be reconsidered and potentially revoked.

'If additional arms export cases are moved through in the next few days without bipartisan congressional support, the likely result will be a reconsideration of those licenses and approvals, with the goal of applying a different and higher standard for arms exports,' the members wrote.

The letter was signed by Representatives Gregory W. Meeks (NY), Albio Sires (NJ), Ted Deutch (FL), Karen Bass (CA), William R. Keating (MA), Ami Bera (CA), and Joaquin Castro (TX).

Full text of the letter can be found here and below.

Dear Mr. Secretary:

We write to strongly caution you against issuing last-minute authorizations of arms exports in the remaining few days of your tenure that have not been subject to full congressional scrutiny.

In recent weeks, the Department has transmitted some eight arms export notifications that were fully cleared through the long-standing procedures that allow advance review by the Chairs and Ranking Members of the House Foreign Affairs and Senate Foreign Relations Committees. These notifications are reminiscent of your May 2019 mis-use of authority in the Arms Export Control Act to avoid congressional review of then-pending arms transfers to Gulf states.

As you know, the Committee subsequently requested that the Department's Inspector General (IG) investigate these May 2019 transfers. The IG concluded that the Department had failed to address civilian casualty risks associated with the transfers and that it regularly approved transfers at dollar values to avoid triggering the threshold for notification to Congress under the Arms Export Control Act.

These actions to short-circuit congressional review of arms exports underscore the Administration's failure to recognize that fundamental disagreements exist over major elements of the Administration's arms export policy and to respect Congress's oversight role in such exports.

These cases were under extended congressional review because the Administration did not take congressional views into account or adjust arms export policies to accommodate congressional concerns. Instead, the Administration decided to push the cases through regardless.

If additional arms export cases are moved through in the next few days without bipartisan Congressional support, the likely result will be a reconsideration of those licenses and approvals, with the goal of applying a different and higher standard for arms exports.

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