The language was added to a rule governing floor debate over the farm bill and was approved Wednesday by an extremely narrow margin, 206-203.
Rep. Jim McGovern, the Democrat who will chair the panel when Democrats take over the House in January, strongly objected to the GOP move.
“It was bad enough that Republicans for the first time ever used a legislative maneuver to shut off the privilege of a Yemen resolution last month,” McGovern said. “Now, they’ve taken the further unprecedented step of shutting off the privilege for all Yemen resolutions to prevent any debate on this through the end of this Congress.”
McGovern added: “Members of the House are being told to sit idly by for weeks as the worst conflict on the planet rages on. It’s a shameful abdication of our responsibility.”
But GOP leaders strongly defended their efforts to weaken the House-version of the resolution, which is being led by Rep. Ro Khanna, a Democrat from California.
The move could give President Donald Trump cover for when the Senate votes Wednesday on a resolution to end US support in Yemen within 30 days, an unprecedented effort invoking the War Powers Act.
Texas Rep. Pete Sessions, the outgoing chairman of the House Rules Committee, said the Yemen resolution is not necessary and would have little impact on ongoing operations in Yemen.
“When Democrats assume the majority in the coming weeks, they will have the opportunity to hold hearings, markups and take votes on this matter,” said Laura Peavey, a Sessions spokeswoman. “Forcing this type of vote on members in the remainder of this Congress is purely political and simply unnecessary.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan’s spokeswoman AshLee Strong said: “The U.S. is no longer providing the very support that this bill seeks to cut off thus making it unnecessary. It is based on a factually faulty premise.”
But Khanna accused Ryan of “using his remaining power to protect the Saudis who are aligned with al-Qaeda and murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi.”
On Wednesday, the Senate is poised to vote on a similar plan to use the War Powers Act to end US support for the war in Yemen in 30 days. The Trump administration bitterly opposes the resolution, cosponsored by Sens. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent, Mike Lee, a Utah Republican, and Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat.
Senators on both sides of the aisle, frustrated with Saudi Arabia and furious over its role in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, are eager to send a message to the Saudi kingdom and the White House.
But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urged senators to defeat the Yemen resolution on Wednesday.
“The Sanders-Lee resolution is neither precise enough nor prudent enough,” McConnell said, calling it a “blunt instrument.”
Instead, McConnell urged senators to support a separate plan drafted by Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Coker to send a message to Saudi Arabia, a measure that would also implicitly rebuke the White House’s handling of the aftermath of the Khashoggi murder.
Corker, who opposes the Yemen resolution, plans to offer a measure
this week to directly rebuke Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the first formal response to Khashoggi’s murder.
“It’s un-American,” Corker said, referring to President Donald Trump’s suggestions that US arms sales with Saudi Arabia are more important than a strong response to the murder of a journalist.
“To say, ‘Well, no. They’re going to buy some arms for us, and so it’s OK to kill a journalist,’ sends exactly the wrong message about who we are as a country,” he added.
This story has been updated to include additional developments.