The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday killed off a President Donald Trump-backed bill offered by Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for the killing of American journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a move made after Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., claimed Risch "blindsided" him by breaking an agreement over legislation related to Saudi Arabia, Politico reports.
The panel instead picked Menendez's bill, which requires sanctions within 30 days on anyone involved in Khashoggi's murder, including "any official of the government of Saudi Arabia or member of the royal family" determined to be involved. The measure would also block certain arms sales to Saudi Arabia and in-flight refueling of the country's aircraft.
Sen. Risch's bill would have forced a "comprehensive review" of the U.S.-Saudi relationship, in addition to revoking or denying visas to members of the Saudi royal family who serve in the Saudi government.
He said he "spent a long time talking with the president about" the measure and what would pass in the Senate.
Menendez's bill was backed by Sens. Rodd Young, R-Ind., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
"I still believe it's our better option to report out as strong a bill as possible so as to not give the impression that we are simply endorsing the administration's policy on Saudi Arabia, but to continue to send a message that both parties want a new direction, both in Yemen and in the bilateral relationship," Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn, said.
Risch had scheduled a meeting for the committee to vote on the bills in a rare break from long-standing tradition. Historically, Republican and Democratic leaders on the panel have only scheduled meetings once both sides agreed.
"Comity has worked to make the committee, up until now, one of the most bipartisan committees in the Senate, even in the face of the sea of partisanship," Menendez told The Hill. "So, I am deeply concerned about how the committee will operate."
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