By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - The House of Representatives passed two measures Monday highly critical of Saudi Arabia, with one seeking to have the U.S. impose sanctions on the Saudi officials responsible for the grisly murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
In addition to passing a resolution via voice vote that condemns Saudi Arabia's detention and alleged abuse of women's rights advocates, the House overwhelmingly approved the Saudi Arabia Human Rights and Accountability Act by a vote of 405-7.
Introduced by Congressman Tom Malinowski, the act requires the Director of National Intelligence to publicly identify the persons involved in killing Khashoggi and impose visa and travel sanctions on them. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is further required to report on the extent to which Riyadh's security forces and military are involved in human rights violations.
While the measures handily cleared the House, their fate in the Republican-controlled Senate is far from certain. Senate Republicans are far less hawkish in their commitment to issue stiff penalties to Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi's killing, particularly given President Donald Trump's defense of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, who is chiefly suspected of ordering the murder.
Congress previously passed legislation mandating that Trump identify and sanction those responsible for the journalist's killing, but he never complied.
Khashoggi was killed on Oct. 2, 2018 in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Saudi Arabia initially denied any knowledge of his whereabouts after he went missing but later attempted to blame his death on a team of rogue operatives carrying out a botched rendition operation.
That explanation, however, has flown in the face of international and U.S. assessments of the killing, which place the blame for the murder on bin Salman.