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Born in 1949, Elizabeth Warren graduated in 1970 with a B.S. from the University of Houston and in 1976 with a J.D. from Rutgers University Newark School of Law. She entered a successful law practice, specializing in bankruptcy law, and taught at Rutgers, the University of Texas School of Law, the University of Pennsylvania Law School, and Harvard Law School. She became an advisor to the National Bankruptcy Commission in 1995. She played a key role in the establishment of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under the Obama administration. In 2013 she became a Senator from Massachusetts, the position she holds today.
Arms Trade Treaty
Warren's position on this issue is unknown. In 2013 and 2015, she opposed Senate resolutions aimed at prohibiting the U.S. from entering the treaty or expending resources implementing it. She has spoken out against the influence of defense contractors and the negative impact of arms exports (see "Arms Sales to Saudi Coalition" resources, below). However, in the Amnesty International questionnaire that explicitly discussed the treaty, her response did not mention it.
Arms Sales to Saudi Coalition
Warren explicitly supports ending arms sales and military support to the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen. Warren co-sponsored a measure to block certain arms sales to Saudi Arabia as early as 2017, one of the first senators to do so (see resource page). She cosponsored a War Powers Resolution, S.J. Res.7, and voted (see also S.J. Res. 36, 38) June 20, 2019 in favor of a package of 22 joint resolutions in the Senate, later vetoed by Trump, designed to prohibit various arms sales to the Saudi-led coalition (see resource page). She is in favor of ending all support with the exception of operations against al-Qaeda and other terror groups.
Response to Council on Foreign Relations questionnaire, September 16, 2019
Saudi Arabia has increasingly pursued a regional and international agenda that does not align with U.S. interests. The Saudi-led war in Yemen exacerbates instability and extremism in the region and has resulted in the deaths of thousands of civilians. Saudi policies in Libya, Lebanon, and Egypt and its irresponsible conflict with Qatar undermine U.S. security. The Saudi government’s role in the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi and its repression of its own citizens insults all who respect human rights and calls into question its reliability as a partner.
While the U.S. and Saudi Arabia will continue to share common objectives -- for example to prevent terrorism in the region -- it is time to reorient our policy in the region away from a reflexive embrace of the Saudi regime and toward one that focuses on U.S. interests. We must be crystal clear about our expectations if Saudi Arabia wants a real partnership. If the Saudi regime is unable or unwilling to meet those expectations, they can expect real consequences in terms of a more limited relationship moving forward.
Response to Amnesty International questionnaire, June 2019
We can start with a simple premise: defense industry profits should not outweigh the lives of innocent civilians. Take Saudi Arabia, for example. A Saudi-led coalition has bombed thousands of Yemeni civilians and potentially allowed the transfer of U.S. weapons to violent extremists. The Saudi regime even ordered the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, merely because he was critical of the government. And yet the Trump Administration has continued to support arms sales to Saudi Arabia because it’s good for American defense contractors’ bottom line.
I have voted to disapprove of arms sales to Saudi Arabia and to halt U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, and I will continue to do so. But we also need to end the stranglehold of defense contractors on our military policy. That’s why I introduced the Department of Defense Ethics and Anti-Corruption Act, which would limit the influence of contractors on the military and provide additional transparency into their actions.
Speech at American University, November 29, 2018
"U.S. counterterrorism efforts have often undermined other efforts to reinforce civilian governance, the rule of law, and human rights abroad. We have partnered with countries that share neither our goals nor our values. In some cases, as with our support for Saudi Arabia’s proxy war in Yemen, U.S. policies risk generating even more extremism. [...]
How do we responsibly cut back? We can start by ending the stranglehold of defense contractors on our military policy. It’s clear that the Pentagon is captured by the so-called “Big Five” defense contractors-and taxpayers are picking up the bill.
If you’re skeptical that this a problem, consider this: the President of the United States has refused to halt arms sales to Saudi Arabia in part because he is more interested in appeasing U.S. defense contractors than holding the Saudis accountable for the murder of a Washington Post journalist or for the thousands of Yemeni civilians killed by those weapons.
The defense industry will inevitably have a seat at the table- but they shouldn’t get to own the table."
Op-ed published by CNN, October 8, 2018
"The administration's decision to double down on US support for the bombing campaign makes a mockery of congressional oversight authority. Overlooking the Saudi-led coalition's apparent disregard for international norms and laws of armed conflict does nothing to improve US standing in the world. And continuing to support an ill-conceived proxy war in Yemen does not make America safer.
The framers of our Constitution believed that the decision to involve ourselves in a conflict like the one in Yemen requires the consent of the people, expressed through their elected representatives. But Congress has never authorized our involvement in this conflict. That's why we have supported bicameral, bipartisan efforts to end the US involvement in Yemen's civil war unless Congress specifically authorizes it.
While counterterrorism operations against al Qaeda and its affiliates would continue, support for the Saudi coalition's military operations against the Houthis would stop."
Firearms Export Oversight
Warren explicitly supports retention of State Department oversight of firearms exports. She has condemned the rule in her official gun policy position, part of a general critique of the arms industry.
"Protecting Our Communities from Gun Violence", Medium, August 10, 2019.
"We will reverse the Trump administration’s efforts to make it easier to export U.S.-manufactured weapons by transferring exports of semi-automatic firearms and ammunition from the State Department to the Commerce Department, and we will prevent the import of foreign-manufactured assault weapons into the United States."