Senate Republicans seeking a way to punish Saudi Arabia over its human rights record without provoking a veto by President Donald Trump are trying a new strategy: denying visas for members of the kingdom's royal family.Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Jim Risch, an Idaho Republican, unveiled legislation on Wednesday that would bar members of the royal family who work in the Saudi government from entering the U.S. If signed into law, hundreds of people could face the restrictions.
"This legislation is an effort to move the U.S./Saudi relationship in a different direction and I am hopeful to have the support of my colleagues in doing so," Risch said in a statement. "We are all in agreement that we need to see a change in Saudi conduct going forward, and this bill would have a real impact in doing that."
The bill, S. 2066, has two Democratic co-sponsors: Sens. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Chris Coons of Delaware. The committee plans to vote on it this month, along with a bill from the panel's ranking Democrat, Bob Menendez, to bar some arms sales to Saudi Arabia and impose sanctions over the killing of the columnist Jamal Khashoggi. That measure is co-sponsored by Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican and Trump ally who has urged the administration to take a tougher stance with the Saudis.