By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - When U.S. President Donald Trump went around Congress last month to approve a multibillion arms deal to Saudi Arabia, he also allowed the Kingdom to develop complex precision-bomb parts, according to a report Friday.
Trump's emergency declaration allows American arms firm Raytheon to share technology with Riyadh that could allow the Kingdom to develop its own laser-guided bombs, according to the New York Times.
Among the components the Saudis are now allowed to work on with the firm are the control systems, and vital electronics for Raytheon's Paveway series of smart bombs. That technology was previously closely guarded by Washington.
Rights groups have tracked previous strikes by Saudi Arabia that used such munitions that resulted in mass civilian casualties, including a 2016 strike on a funeral home in the Yemeni capital that killed 150 people and injured hundreds of other victims.
The technology sharing is just one part of a sweeping arms package Trump pushed through, ostensibly over an alleged increased threat from Iran, over Congressional concerns.
The move has infuriated lawmakers, including some of Trump's staunchest allies, who were holding up the sale because of humanitarian concerns with the Kingdom, including the civilian toll of its air campaign in Yemen and its grisly murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers announced Wednesday plans to hold 22 votes in response to Trump's declaration.
The nearly two dozen joint resolutions of disapproval are meant to rebuke the president for his actions after Congress blocked the sales since 2018. The smart bombs component had been blocked since at least May 2018, according to the Times.
Republicans Senators Lindsey Graham, Rand Paul, and Todd Young are being joined by Democrats Jack Reed, Bob Menendez, Chris Murphy, and Patrick Leahy in the formal lashing out.
The resolutions planned for a vote will not block the arms sales without a veto proof majority in both chambers of Congress, and is unclear if lawmakers have the necessary support. But short of that the votes will serve as a highly public confrontation with the president.
"This administration’s credibility when it comes to arms sales, human rights, and the rule of law is in tatters," Leahy said in a statement. "By introducing resolutions of disapproval, Republicans and Democrats are standing together in support of a process of consultation that has worked well for decades, regardless of which party controls the White House.”