Some Dems open to considering re-designating Houthis as a terror group, as Republicans press the issue

Several Democrats asked about the issue indicated to JI that they had not considered the issue, but indicated they were open to discussions


Forces loyal to Yemen's Houthi rebels hold up Palestinian flags as they march in a show of solidarity with the Palestinians on October 15, 2023, in Sanaa.

As Senate Republicans press ahead with efforts to re-designate the Houthis as a terrorist organization, some Senate Democrats say they’re open to considering the proposal, although most indicated they haven’t given it much thought.

Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) led 13 other Senate Republicans yesterday on a bill to re-impose the Yemeni militia group’s designation and sanction the Houthis, in response to the group’s continued attacks on Israel, a day after several Republicans sent a letter on the subject.

Multiple Senate Democrats who spoke to Jewish Insider yesterday about the issue seemed open to, at minimum, considering the proposal.

“They seem to have been much more active as a malign group and as an Iranian proxy since [the designation] was removed, so I think it’s certainly something that we should look into,” Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) told JI.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Ben Cardin (D-MD) told JI that the “focus is to make sure that we have the type of cooperation in the region to deal with the threat and the pressure we’re putting on their sponsors, Iran.”

“There has been an overall strategy to stop the potential escalation of this conflict, and that’s our principal objective — to accomplish that,” Cardin said. “That’s certainly an option, but right now our [focus] is to present escalation.”

Sen. Chris Coons (D-CT) emphasized to JI that the Houthis’ attacks on Israel are “repeated and sustained.”

“I haven’t thought about that,” Coons told JI. “The Houthis continue to be a destabilizing force in the region. I’m glad that we have moved into the region naval assets, air-defense assets that have so far protected Israel from all the Houthis’ attempts at striking Israel. But that’s a fair question.”

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), who led a letter in 2022 opposing the Houthis’ redesignation, told JI he “hadn’t given a lot of thought” to the issue.

“We’re at a moment of de-escalation in Yemen,” Murphy. “We’re trying to figure out a political path forward. I’m not interested in anything that will frustrate that potential political path.”

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