The Obama administration has quietly forged ahead with its proposal to sell $60 billion worth of fighter jets and attack helicopters to Saudi Arabia unhampered by Congress, despite questions raised in legislative inquiries and in an internal congressional report about the wisdom of the deal.The massive arms deal would be the single largest sale of weapons to a foreign nation in the history of the U.S., outfitting Saudi Arabia with a fully modernized, potent new air force.
“Our six-decade-long security relationship with Saudi Arabia is a primary security pillar in the region,” Defense Sec. Robert M. Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton wrote in a Nov. 16 letter to congress. “This package continues that tradition.”
But some critics are questioning the deal, and the stealthy effort by the Obama administration to avoid a more probing congressional review by notifying Congress last month, just as members were headed home for the November elections. Congress had 30 days to raise objections — a review period that concludes today. With most members leaving Washington today, any significant effort to block the deal appears dead for now, officials said.
“I do not think there will be any action” to hold up the sale, Rep. Howard Berman, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told Bloomberg News Thursday.
Rep. Anthony Weiner, a New York Democrat, submitted a resolution this week to try and block the deal, and was among those who objected to the way the administration approached the required congressional review.
“Hiding this in a recess announcement is a sign of how unpopular it is,” he said. “It’s bad policy that now is further tainted by shameful process.”