LaMalfa and McClintock vote against a bipartisan bill meant to put pressure on Saudi Arabia
Special to the Sierra Sun
Last week, Congress voted 405-7 in favor of House Resolution 2037.
The bill requires the director of national intelligence to report to Congress on foreign individuals who played a role in Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder. The bill also requires those individuals to be banned from traveling to, or remaining in, the U.S. and mandates the Secretary of State to report on human rights violations by the Saudi government.
Two of the seven, all Republicans, who voted against the bipartisan bill represent portions of Nevada County: Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale) and Tom McClintock (R-Elk Grove).
A representative of LaMalfa’s office said the congressman rejected the bill because the Trump administration “should make its own decision” regarding its handling of the Khashoggi case without being pressured from Congress. LaMalfa’s Communications Director Parker Williams said it was premature to impose sanctions on Saudi Arabia before a government report on Khashoggi had been delivered.
After conducting an investigation into Khashoggi’s death, United Nations Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard determined Saudi Arabian officials committed international crimes and were responsible for the journalist’s death.
Saudi Arabia originally denied the whereabouts of Khashoggi when he went missing, and then blamed his death on “rogue operatives.”
President Donald Trump has pushed back against criticism aimed at Saudi Arabia for Khashoggi’s death.
Williams this week said Saudi Arabia is an American ally, but that was not the reason for LaMalfa’s vote Monday.
A McClintock representative, Jennifer Cressy, said the congressman whose district includes eastern Nevada County didn’t want to possibly sour America’s partnership with Saudi Arabia.
“As heinous as his murder was, Congress has no business imperiling our government’s relations with Saudi Arabia at a time when it is playing a critical role in containing Iranian expansion in the region,” Cressy wrote in an email to The Union.
Cressy also wrote that while Khashoggi was likely murdered by Saudi operatives for his criticism of the regime, Khashoggi was not a U.S. citizen and was not murdered on U.S. soil.
With Monday’s approval in the House, the resolution next goes to the Senate.
On Wednesday, LaMalfa and McClintock also voted against Congress blocking the coproduction and sale of bombs to Saudi Arabia. That bill, a joint resolution that prohibits the proposed sale of various defense articles and related support services to Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, Spain, and Italy, passed both chambers with a 238-190 vote in the House of Representatives this week and a 53-45 vote on June 20 in the Senate, where seven Republicans voted in favor.
Trump, who has sought to forge closer ties with Riyadh, has pledged to veto the resolution. The Senate cleared the resolution last month, but like the House, fell well short of a veto-proof majority. Overturning a president’s veto requires a two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate.
SUPPORTING THE PRESIDENT
Nevada County’s two congressional representatives also supported the Trump administration’s travel ban, preventing refugees, immigrants and visitors from five Muslim-majority countries — Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen — along with North Korea and Venezuela, from entering the country. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the ban with a 5-4 decision in June 2018.
“The President’s travel ban is necessary and is provided for in the Constitution – despite the rulings of activist judges in lower courts,” LaMalfa said in 2017, when the high court unanimously lifted an injunction on the travel ban. “Contrary to some reports, this policy has nothing to do with singling out a religion and everything to do with heightened risk of terrorism affecting our country. With increased terrorist attacks like we’ve seen in Europe and here at home, the president and Congress need all the tools available to ensure we are not importing terrorism to the United States.”
McClintock has voted in line with Trump 97.5% of the time in the 116th Congress, according to reporting from FiveThirtyEight. During the same session, LaMalfa voted along the president’s side 92.5% of the time.
— The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Sam Corey is a reporter for The Union, a sister publication of the Sierra Sun based in Grass Valley. Contact him at 530-477-4219 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.