Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said Tuesday that he would attempt to force a vote to reject arms sales to Saudi Arabia following reports that a Washington Post contributor was murdered in the kingdom's consulate after criticizing the royal family.
Paul said in an interview on Louisville radio station WHAS, "Believe you me, I will be forcing votes on them."
"It is a point of difference with the president," he said, adding, "but who knows, the president may come around on this if there is any evidence they killed this journalist."
Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was last seen entering the consulate in Istanbul. An anonymous Turkish official who spoke to Bloomberg News said Khashoggi was murdered inside the consulate. Turkish police told Reuters that they also believe Khashoggi was murdered sometime after entering.
The Saudi government has denied these allegations. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told Bloomberg News in an interview last week that Khashoggi left the consulate shortly after entering. He said he would allow Turkey to search the building.
President Trump said Monday that he is concerned about the disappearance, and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said that he would raise the issue with the Saudi ambassador.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., tweeted Monday, “If there was any truth to the allegations of wrongdoing by the Saudi government it would be devastating to the US-Saudi relationship and there will be a heavy price to be paid--economically and otherwise.”
Meanwhile, Sen. Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, has notified the Trump administration that he will use informal procedures to block arms sales to Saudi Arabia out of concern for the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen.
The U.S. provides support to the Saudis in the Yemen civil war, but senators are increasingly concerned with the rising number of civilian casualties rise.
In 2017, Paul failed to block part of the president's $110 billion in sales to Saudi Arabia, but only by a narrow margin. The chamber also tabled a resolution in March that would require Trump to withdraw any troops in "or affecting" Yemen within 30 days unless they were fighting al Qaeda.