By Patricia Zengerle
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. senators said on Thursday they expect to vote next week on efforts to make clear to Saudi Arabia there is strong concern in Washington about the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at a Saudi consulate in Turkey, despite President Donald Trump’s calls for continued close ties to Riyadh.
Some of Trump’s fellow Republicans have joined Democrats in blaming Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for Khashoggi’s death and backing legislation that could respond by, among other things, ending U.S. support for Saudi-led war effort in Yemen and suspending weapons sales to the kingdom.
A group of Republican and Democratic senators met on Thursday morning to discuss how to move ahead, saying afterward they were working to come up with a compromise that could eventually become law.
Republican Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he hoped to hold a hearing early next week on legislation that included a broad range of efforts to clamp down on Riyadh, including new sanctions and an end to military sales.
He also said he expected a vote in the Senate next week on a war powers resolution to stop U.S. support for the war in Yemen, which has produced one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters.
Last week, 14 Republicans, who hold a slim majority in the Senate and rarely break from the president, defied Trump’s wishes and voted with Democrats in favor of moving ahead with the war powers resolution.
“We had a very good meeting,” Corker told reporters after the session, which was also attended by Republican Senators Lindsey Graham and Todd Young and Democrats Bob Menendez and Chris Murphy.
Menendez, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters after the meeting that the senators were working on a compromise.
Graham, a vocal critic of Saudi Arabia who is close to Trump, introduced a bipartisan Senate resolution on Thursday intended to hold the Saudi crown prince “accountable” for contributing to the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, a blockade of Qatar, the jailing of dissidents and Khashoggi’s death.
Khashoggi was a U.S. resident and Washington Post columnist.
(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; editing by Jonathan Oatis)