Sen. Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican who led opposition to the deal, pointed to speculation that Saudi officials may have had knowledge of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and may have helped arm the Islamic State militants.
The narrow vote to dismiss a resolution to block the transaction was a significant shift from a similar vote past year on a tank sale to Saudi Arabia under the Obama administration that was easily tabled, or killed, 71-27.
The Senate on Tuesday narrowly turned back a bipartisan bid to rebuke Saudi Arabia and reject President Donald Trump's plan to sell the kingdom more than $500 million in precision-guided munitions, sparing the new Republican administration an embarrassing defeat. Most of that sale still has to be finalized, which means Congress will have a chance to vote on many future arms sales to Saudi Arabia, too.
In the end, just a handful Democrats joined most Republicans in backing Mr. Trump, resulting in a 53-47 vote of approval for his deal to proceed.
"Selling the Saudis precision-guided munitions that are going to be used to target civilians makes us complicit in this humanitarian and national security disaster", Murphy said in a statement.
"I can list 20 reasons why I'm very concerned about giving them weapons, but one of those things also coming up this week is we're unhappy with Iran for developing ballistic missiles". We let Saudi Arabia have what it wants despite its violations. That effort also failed, drawing support from 27 senators.
"We need to stand up for our values and ensure that the U.S. no longer turns a blind eye to the indiscriminate killing of children, women, and men in Yemen", Franken said in a statement. Today I stand up for saying we, the United States, should no longer be fueling the arms race in the Middle East.
The crisis in Yemen, where the Saudis and allies have been battling Iran-backed militants for over two years, is getting increasingly desperate.
FCLN notes: "S.J.Res. 42, originally introduced by Senators Paul, Murphy and Franken, is a resolution of disapproval for the $550 million sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia that replenishes stockpiles of weapons the kingdom is using in its war in Yemen".
Hours before the vote, Paul told a group of congressional interns and staff members that the measure was largely symbolic. Trump also praised and took credit for the decision of Saudi Arabia and several other Arab countries to isolate USA ally Qatar over its funding of extremist groups.
"Values do mean something and we shouldn't be offering our weapons and our support to a country with these awful abuses", he emphasized. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) over the U.S. -Saudi alliance.
"Saudi Arabia bombed a funeral procession", Paul said on the Senate floor, referring to an October 2016 incident. "Why would we give weapons to a country that's funding ISIS?"