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Dems Try To Link Saudi Arms Sale To Oil Production

Sen. Charles Schumer has a message for Saudi Arabia: Give us more oil and we'll give you more guns.

That's the raw calculation behind a binding Senate resolution that would attempt to block $1.4 billion in pending U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia until the oil rich nation agrees to release one million more barrels of oil a day into the global petroleum supply. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) indicated on Tuesday that he may bring the resolution straight to the Senate floor, but the effort will be futile if Senate Republicans block the measure.

And Schumer (D-N.Y.) admits that such a resolution is not a long term solution.

"It's a short-term fix, but we have no other choice, as my colleagues across the aisle and this administration continue to side with Big Oil at the expense of American families," Schumer said in a floor speech on Tuesday.

The resolution, known as a "joint resolution of disapproval," would seek to block four separate arms sales to Saudi Arabia, and among the weapons being sold are "J-Dams," which are essentially smart bombs made by the United States. The arms deals would be allowed to go through if Saudi Arabia increases its production one million barrels a day above its Jan. 2008 production levels.

Procedurally, this measure is the same type of resolution of disapproval that helped derail the 2006 purchase of several U.S. port facilities by Dubai Ports.

Reid said the resolution was really designed to put pressure on Saudis, but didn't promise immediate action.

"I think it's important that the president recognize that that's an issue," Reid said. "We sent a letter to the president yesterday asking him to make sure he discusses with the Saudi Arabians the fact that they cut back on producing oil."

There's obviously a political component to this resolution _ President Bush is traveling to the Middle East this week and Democrats would love to make the president's life difficult as he meets with Saudi and other officials from the region.