US Senate fails to override Donald Trump's veto on Yemen war policy

President rejected attempt by legislators to end US support for Saudi-led coalition

2020 Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (I-VT) departs after a vote attempting to override U.S. President Donald Trump's veto of the resolution demanding an end to support of Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen failed, in Washington, D.C., U.S., May 2, 2019. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

The US Senate on Thursday failed to overturn President Donald Trump's veto of legislation that would have ended America's military assistance for the Saudi-led coalition fighting Iran-backed rebels in Yemen.

While the 53-45 vote to override fell well short of the required two-thirds, passage of the resolution in April was an unprecedented rebuke of Mr Trump's foreign policy and a milestone for Congress, which invoked never-before-used powers in an effort to halt foreign military activity. The United States is providing logistical support and intelligence-sharing for the war in Yemen that has killed thousands of civilians and left millions more on the brink of famine.

Defending his veto last month, Mr Trump said the Yemen resolution was a "dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities, endangering the lives of American citizens".

The Pentagon says continued support of the coalition is in the US interest because it helps American allies push back against Iranian aggression in the region.

Senator Bernie Sanders, one of the resolution's sponsors, said the action on Capitol Hill showed that "after years of abdicating that responsibility, Congress stood up in the Senate and in the House and said: You know what, Mr President, you do not have the power to get US troops involved in a war that we did not vote upon. And that is a big deal."

Mr Sanders is seeking the Democratic nomination for the 2020 presidential election.

The push to end American involvement in the war gained strength in Congress last year after Saudi agents killed Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist who had based himself in the US and written critically about the kingdom. Members of Congress criticised Mr Trump for not condemning Saudi Arabia's role strongly enough and urged new penalties against the US ally, with whom the administration has forged close ties as it seeks to isolate Iran.

Saudi Arabia has said the killing of Khashoggi was an unauthorised operation carried out by rogue agents.