May 22, 2018

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Passes Young Yemen Legislation to Address World’s Largest Humanitarian Crisis

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed bipartisan legislation on Yemen introduced by U.S. Senators Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), along with Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Chris Coons (D-Del.). The legislation seeks to end the civil war in Yemen, protect civilians, and address the world’s largest humanitarian disaster—where eight million people are at risk of famine. The Committee passed the legislation on a bipartisan vote of 14-7. 

“Our humanitarian principles and our national security interests require that the United States use its influence to bring the civil war in Yemen to an end and address the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. Our legislation would help do that, and I am pleased that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed it today on such a strong and bipartisan basis,” said Senator Young. “I appreciate the role Chairman Corker and Ranking Member Menendez played in advancing this legislation. This is what substantive, bipartisan, and serious legislating—with principled compromises along the way—should look like. We need more of this on Capitol Hill.”

The legislation requires the Secretary of State to certify that the Government of Saudi Arabia is undertaking:

1) Efforts to end the civil war.

2) Measures to increase access for Yemenis to food, fuel, and medicine.

3) Steps to reduce unnecessary delays in humanitarian shipments.

4) Actions to reduce the risk of harm to civilians.  

If the Secretary of State cannot make these repeated, written, and unclassified certifications, the legislation would prohibit the U.S. refueling of Saudi coalition aircraft conducting missions exclusively focused on the civil war. The legislation includes a national security waiver the administration could utilize. However, that waiver could only be utilized after the administration first identifies in writing why the certification cannot be made and what steps the administration plans to take to bring the Saudi Government into compliance.   

Since introducing a prior version of the legislation in March, Senator Young worked with members from both parties to adopt refinements that would permit the committee to pass the legislation. As Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee responsible for multilateral development, Senator Young chaired a hearing on the so-called “Four Famines” and a hearing on “Why Food Security Matters.” Since March 2017, Young has also used letters to the administration and the Saudi governmentan administration nominationmultiple statements, and a Senate resolutionto address the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. Senator Young spoke at Indiana University on Global Food Security last month. 

Senators Young, Shaheen, and Coons are members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Senator Collins is a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

Click here for the version of the legislation considered today by the committee.