With the latest barrage of Russian missiles across Ukraine, however, the outrage in Washington directed at Riyadh has only grown in recent days. Mr. Biden’s decision to review the relationship came a day after Senator Bob Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey and the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, called for an immediate freeze on “all aspects of our cooperation with Saudi Arabia,” vowing to use his power to block future arms sales.
Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the second-ranking Democrat in the Senate, said on Tuesday that Saudi Arabia clearly wanted Russia to win the war in Ukraine. “Let’s be very candid about this,” he said on CNN. “It’s Putin and Saudi Arabia against the United States.”
Two other Democrats, Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Representative Ro Khanna of California, announced Tuesday that they would introduce legislation cutting arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
Mr. Blumenthal said Mr. Biden should take action. “I would do more than re-evaluate. I would act immediately,” he said in an interview. “He has been misled and double-crossed, and I don’t think he should or will take lightly to it.”
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John F. Kirby, the strategic communications coordinator for the National Security Council, said the president was willing to discuss next steps with members of Congress. “Certainly in light of recent developments and OPEC Plus’s decision about oil production, the president believes that we should review the bilateral relationship with Saudi Arabia and to take a look to see if that relationship is where it needs to be and that it is serving our national security interests,” he told reporters.
Still, it was not clear how far Mr. Biden was willing to go, or whether he was using the public comments as a warning to Saudi Arabia or as an effort to quiet domestic critics who have faulted him for being soft on the kingdom. No special team of aides was established to conduct a formal review; no deadline was set for a conclusion; and no options were mentioned for consideration.
Moreover, the White House has done nothing yet to consult Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill. Congressional officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe internal deliberations, said Senator Chuck Schumer, the New York Democrat and majority leader, was “seriously considering” bringing up legislation to punish the Saudis by allowing lawsuits for price fixing. But they said congressional Democrats were seeking more guidance from the White House on its preferences.