Both of Idaho's senators voted against a resolution Wednesday to end U.S. support for Saudi Arabia's military campaign in Yemen.
The measure, which had been tabled previously in March, passed 63-37, with 14 Republicans joining the Democrats to advance it. The vote is being seen as a rebuke to the Trump administration and its response to the murder of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Wednesday's procedural vote means the Senate can move on with further discussion of the measure, expected next week.
The Associated Press reported that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense James Mattis both went to Capitol Hill to urgently lobby against the resolution, which would call for an end to U.S. military assistance for the conflict that human rights advocates say is wreaking havoc on Yemen and subjecting civilians to indiscriminate bombing.
Risch said in an email that the measure should have first gone through the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
"Second, I believe existing authorities cover the extremely limited support the United States is providing in Yemen," he said. "Most importantly, our support is necessary to protect our national security interests from the extremists and foreign proxies threatening the sovereignty of Yemen."
Last week when asked about the Khashoggi killing, Risch told CNBC that "Any extrajudicial killing by a foreign government on foreign soil is contemptible regardless of our relationship with the responsible individual or country, and it needs to be handled appropriately."
Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker didn't run for re-election, and Risch is expected to become the committee's next chairman in January.
Khashoggi, who lived in the U.S. and wrote for The Washington Post, was publicly critical of the Saudi crown prince, the Associated Press reported. He was killed in what U.S. officials have described as an elaborate plot at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, which he had visited for marriage paperwork.