The US Senate cleared the way for a $1.15 billion sale of tanks and other military equipment to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, defending a frequent partner in the Middle East recently subject to harsh criticism in Congress.
The Senate voted 71 to 27 to kill legislation that would have stopped the sale.
The overwhelming vote stopped an effort led by Republican Senator Rand Paul and Democratic Senator Chris Murphy to block the deal over concerns including Saudi Arabia’s role in the 18-month-long war in Yemen and worries that it might fuel an ongoing regional arms race.
The Pentagon announced on August 9 that the State Department had approved the potential sale of more than 130 Abrams battle tanks, 20 armored recovery vehicles and other equipment to Saudi Arabia.
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said General Dynamics Corp would be the principal contractor for the sale.
Paul, Murphy and other opponents of the arms deal were sharply critical of the Riyadh government during debate before the vote, citing Yemen, the Kingdom’s human rights record and its international support for a conservative form of Islam.