‘Terrible Decision’: Top Dem Senator Vows To Punish Saudi Arabia For Oil Production Cut

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Micaela Burrow Investigative Reporter, Defense
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Democratic Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Menendez called for the Biden administration to cease arms sales to Saudi Arabia until the oil-rich kingdom “reassesses” its decision to cut oil production, seen as damaging to the U.S. and a boon to Russia’s war effort in Ukraine, in a statement on Monday.

The New Jersey senator pledged to use “all means at [his] disposal” to restrict Russia from supplies and funds to fuel its “war machine,” including the power that he wields as Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair to unilaterally veto presidential arms transfers, Politico reported. Despite President Joe Biden’s pleas to Saudi Arabia to authorize a boost in oil production alleviating high energy prices for the U.S. and western allies, the Kingdom led the charge to slash production at a meeting Wednesday that could allow Russia to further profit from its petroleum revenues through the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

“I will not green-light any cooperation with Riyadh until the Kingdom reassesses its position with respect to the war in Ukraine,” Menendez said. “Enough is enough.” (RELATED: Biden Turns To Venezuela For Oil After OPEC Slashes Production)

Democratic lawmakers have decried Saudi Arabia as a backstabbing, untrustworthy ally and called for a drawdown of U.S. troops stationed in the Kingdom as an additional consequence, Politico reported.

“There is simply no room to play both sides of this conflict — either you support the rest of the free world in trying to stop a war criminal from violently wiping off an entire country off the map, or you support him,” said Menendez. “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia chose the latter in a terrible decision driven by economic self-interest.”

Menendez’ statement came hours after Russia’s renewed aerial assault in at least 10 cities across Ukraine, including the first strikes on the country’s capital in months, which he cited as a driving factor in his decision to stymie arms sales.

State Department Principal Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel said Thursday the administration had “no plans” to restrict arms sales to the Kingdom, But Menendez’ vow could make it more difficult for the administration to follow through with its plans.

While Congress has considered breaking off arms sales with Saudi Arabia over various issues, including the 2018 assassination of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, it has never done so over the belief that arming the Kingdom furthered U.S. security interests in the region, according to Politico.

Menendez attempted to block an arms sale to Saudi Arabia in 2019 under the Trump administration to avoid supporting Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, after which the former president issued an emergency waiver to further the sale.

The White House and State Department did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s requests for comment.

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