The United States Senate has defeated an effort to block the Trump administration’s sale of $23bn in advanced fighter jets and drones to the United Arab Emirates.

Iran PressAmerica: US President Donald Trump had issued a formal threat to veto congressional efforts to block the planned weapons transfer, which is tied to the UAE’s normalization of ties with Israel under the 'Abraham Accords'.

Two procedural votes failed to gain a majority of the 100-member Senate, effectively stopping the effort to block the sale of advanced F-35 fighter jets and Reaper drones.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said the resolutions seeking to block the arms sale fell far short of the two-thirds support that would be needed to overcome a presidential veto.

"It’s a little baffling to suggest that, now of all times, a protest gesture with no chance of obtaining a veto-proof majority is a valuable use of the Senate’s time," McConnell said in Senate floor remarks.

Backers of the sale described the UAE as an important US partner in the Middle East. Opponents criticized the UAE for its involvement in the war in Yemen, a conflict described by the United Nations as one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters.

The deal includes the F-35, the world’s most advanced fighter jet; more than 14,000 bombs and munitions; and the second-largest sale of US drones to a single country.

The White House said the sales directly support US foreign policy and national security objectives by 'enabling the UAE to deter increasing Iranian aggressive behavior and threats' in the wake of its recent deal with Israel.

The veto threat was expected. US law requires a congressional review of major arms deals, and lets senators force votes on resolutions of disapproval.

But to become effective, the resolutions needed to pass the Republican-led Senate and Democratic-led House of Representatives, and garner two-thirds majorities in both chambers to survive Trump’s veto pen.

Senator Chris Murphy, a leading critic of the arms sale, said on Twitter the Trump administration’s move to jam the transaction through quickly, without giving Congress time to review it, was designed to tie the hands of incoming President-elect Joe Biden.


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