Congress poised to ban Saudis from key military training program
Both the House and Senate are set to vote this week on ending Saudi Arabia's participation in a key taxpayer-funded military training program.
In an effort to end the longest government shutdown in US history, the Democratic-controlled House and Republican-led Senate vote on new spending bills this week. Despite major differences, both versions contain identical language cutting off Saudi Arabia from the State Department-run International Military Education and Training Program (IMET), all but ensuring that the provision will become law after the shutdown ends.
Saudi Arabia typically only receives a few thousand dollars in IMET assistance every year. But its participation in the program allows Riyadh to qualify for discounts on other military training programs that are part and parcel of US foreign military sales.
Interestingly enough, the Donald Trump administration itself did not ask Congress for any IMET funding for Saudi Arabia in its FY2019 budget request last year, months before Jamal Khashoggi’s murder.
- Bryant Harris