A bipartisan congressional coalition led by Democratic California Rep. Ted Lieu is calling on the Obama administration to postpone a sale of tanks to Saudi Arabia, citing the country's conflict in Yemen and expressing concerns that the administration is trying to push the deal through before Congress has time look at it thoroughly.

"Past congressional concerns about Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen have not been addressed," said a coalition letter to the White House announced on Tuesday. "In October, members of Congress wrote to you urging greater efforts to avoid civilian casualties in Yemen and achieve a diplomatic solution to the conflict."

Related Story: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/article/2595572
The letter notes that 204 House members voted in June to block the transfer of cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia after reports of their use in civilian areas in Yemen. The number of votes fell just short of the 218-member threshold for a majority. "Yet just in the last several days, a Saudi airstrike on a school in Yemen killed 10 children some as young as 6-years-old, and a Saudi airstrike on [a] ... hospital in Yemen killed 11 people."

The administration on Aug. 8 notified Congress of its intent to sell $1.15 billion in additional weapons, meaning Congress will have just three days to approve the deal when it returns Sept. 6. The sale involved M1A2S Saudi Abrams main battle tanks M88A1/A2 armored recovery vehicles. The principal contractor would be General Dynamics Land Systems.

The critics took issue with the short notice.

"Any decision to sell more arms to Saudi Arabia should be given adequate time for full deliberation by Congress," authors added. "We are concerned, however, that the timing of this notification during the August congressional recess could be interpreted to mean that Congress has little time to consider the arms deal when it returns from recess within the 30 day window established by law."

"We are not aware of any compelling reason why congressional approval of the sale could not be postponed to allow for meaningful congressional debate on this issue," the letter added.

Among the letter's 64 signatories are some of the staunchest liberals in Congress, including Florida Rep. Alan Grayson, Michigan Rep. John Conyers Jr., and Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison. Republican authors hail from the more libertarian wing of Congress. Those include Florida Rep. Ted Yoho, South Carolina Rep. Mick Mulvaney, Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie, and North Carolina Rep. Walter Jones.

The authors closed by hinting at hypocrisy from the president, reminding him he had praised the role Congress plays in approving foreign intervention when he sought its approval for a mission in Syria three years ago. "We urge you to delay this proposed arms deal so that the people's representatives in Congress can give these issues the full deliberation that they deserve," authors wrote.