Democratic lawmakers Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., are pushing for the U.S. to temporarily halt all arms sales to Saudi Arabia, after the Arab nation led an OPEC+ decision to cut oil production by two million barrels a day.
The oil cut was immediately projected to lead to a rise in gas prices, and the two Democrats blasted Saudi Arabia for a decision that they said served no reasonable purpose.
“The long and short is the Saudis need to come to their senses,” Blumenthal said. “They have committed a humongous blunder very much against their own economic and security interests as well as ours. The only apparent purpose of this cut in oil supplies is to help the Russians and harm Americans. It was unprovoked and unforced as an error.”
Blumenthal cited recent comments by President Biden, in which Biden warned that there would be “consequences” for Saudi Arabia. The senator agreed, saying that those consequences should be a “one-year pause in sales of all arms, repairs, supplies, support” for Saudi Arabia.
“The Saudis were making windfall returns. Only the Russians were making less profitable returns. And now we need to rebalance our relationship and the Saudis need to restore trust,” Blumenthal said.
Khanna noted that the U.S. has provided significant military aid to Saudi Arabia for decades.
“They get almost 73% of their arms from the United States. If it weren’t for our technicians, their airplanes literally wouldn’t fly,” Khanna said, noting that while Saudi Arabia does use mechanics from other countries like Pakistan, they are under U.S. supervision. “We literally are responsible for their entire air force.”
Khanna went on to say that “what galls many of us in Congress is the ingratitude” of Saudi Arabia taking action that hurts the U.S. instead of helping at a time “when Americans are facing a crisis” of high gas prices that he and the administration have blamed on Russia.
“Instead, they’re hurting the American people and that will not stand,” he said.
The lawmakers and the White House have said that the OPEC decision is an indicator that Saudi Arabia is siding with Russia.
“Americans ought to be deeply offended by a supposed ally siding with a murderous butcher who is literally committing war crimes,” Blumenthal said, adding that “Saudi Arabia has broken trust with America and it needs to come to its senses.”
The senator went on to say that Saudi Arabia’s mistake “can still be corrected” by reconsidering its actions.
When asked by Fox News if he believes Biden has successfully handled the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia, Blumenthal said he thinks Biden is “moving in the right direction” by warning that there will be consequences.
Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told Fox News on Sunday that Saudi Arabia’s decision was in response to Biden saying during his campaign that the Arab nation should be treated like a “pariah,” as well as his administration’s push to enter into a new nuclear deal with Iran.
“Don’t be shocked when OPEC is not your friend and doesn’t go and lift and raise production,” Haley told “Sunday Morning Futures” host Maria Bartiromo. “I mean, they did exactly what I think they wanted to do, which was stick it to Biden.”
Khanna, meanwhile, blamed former President Donald Trump, claiming that “the Saudis have consistently been miscalculating in the past couple of years, and it’s probably because Trump candidly gave them carte blanche” that gave them a “false sense of complacency.”