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STORY BY ANDREW DESIDERIO

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Published on December 1, 2020 9:36 PM

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Congress readies final rebuke of Trump foreign policy
Congress will soon have its final chance to rein in President Donald Trump's foreign policy agenda, with lawmakers preparing to force votes to block a massive new weapons sale to the Middle East.

Trump's most contentious foreign-policy decisions have often drawn bipartisan rebukes; now the Trump administration's 11th-hour proposed arms transfer to the United Arab Emirates is coming under scrutiny from members of both parties. Critics say it's not just harmful policy — threatening an arms race in the region and jeopardizing Israel's security — but an unfair gambit to box in the incoming Biden administration.

"I think there's a lot of things that simply they don't have answers for — things that are critical to be considered," said Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), who is leading the effort to overturn the weapons sale alongside Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.).

At issue is a $23 billion sale of advanced weaponry to the Gulf nation, a strategic ally of the United States that recently signed a peace accord with Israel that was brokered by the Trump administration. Senior defense officials have already started lobbying lawmakers to oppose the series of bipartisan measures which could soon come to the floor, according to congressional aides.

Top Pentagon and State Department officials also briefed senators Monday night about the arms sale, which includes 50 F-35 aircraft, a massive stockpile of missiles, and 18 Reaper drones — a significant upgrade for the country's military capabilities as it deploys its proxies around the Middle East. It's one of several major foreign-policy moves the Trump administration is setting into motion during the presidential transition period, including a drawdown of troops in Afghanistan that has drawn bipartisan fire.