SOMERVILLE — America’s tumultuous domestic politics are distracting us from the most urgent ethical choice before our nation: whether to continue helping to bomb and starve Yemen to death. The best way to address our complicity would be for Congress to end U.S. participation in a war it never authorized. Maine’s representatives can do so by voting for the recently introduced House Concurrent Resolution 138.

Yemen has been wracked by war for four years since Houthi rebels overthrew the president and Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates launched a military campaign to return him to power.

Both sides are complicit in large-scale human rights abuses, including siege and bombing of residential neighborhoods, kidnapping and summary execution. But the Saudi-led coalition is responsible for the greatest suffering. It has carried out hundreds of airstrikes on civilian targets such as markets, hospitals and schools. In August, Saudi jets bombed a school bus, killing 40 children and their chaperones.

Even worse, the Saudis have imposed a starvation blockade on Yemeni ports that 90 percent of the country’s food supplies pass through, bringing 13 million civilians to the edge of famine. The U.N. estimates that a child in Yemen dies every 10 minutes from preventable disease.

Iran provides training and some weaponry to the Houthi rebels and may have helped them build rockets they fired at Saudi Arabia. But this help is dwarfed by American assistance for the Saudis in the form of multibillion-dollar arms sales, targeting assistance for airstrikes and refueling for coalition jets.

This moral stain began under the Obama administration, which halfheartedly tried to constrain the worst habits of the Saudi coalition, such as bombing water treatment plants or “double tapping” wedding parties. When President Trump inherited the undeclared war, he lifted even these cursory restraints, giving his favorite allies the Saudis free rein to starve millions of Yemeni civilians.

Trump’s special treatment of the Saudi regime is visible in his dismissive reaction to the alleged torture and murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in their embassy in Turkey. The president shrugged off the horrific news and reminded reporters that the Saudis pay billions for U.S. arms. One wonders what his reaction would have been had Iran been accused of this murder. With the executive branch in denial about the deadly consequences of its Yemen policies, Congress must finally act decisively. Several bills to cut off new arms sales to the Saudis were narrowly defeated, and concerned senators recently conditioned further sales on certification by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that the Saudi coalition is taking steps to reduce civilian casualties. Pompeo cynically granted the certification despite ample evidence to the contrary.

Last month, a bipartisan coalition introduced House Concurrent Resolution 138 to trigger the 1973 U.S. War Powers Act – which explicitly forbids waging war without congressional approval – in regards to the Yemen conflict.

We have lots of work to do to ensure that Maine’s delegation votes accordingly. Chellie Pingree deserves credit for backing every effort to limit arms sales and hold the Saudis to account. She should go even further and become a co-sponsor of H.Con.Res. 138.

Bruce Poliquin has remained silent on Yemen. Constituents in the 2nd District should remind him of the massive human cost of the billions in profits that arms manufacturers are making on Yemen’s destruction – perhaps with a call every 10 minutes to symbolize the children’s death toll.

Both Angus King and Susan Collins voted in 2016 to allow continued arms sales, but by 2017 King had come around. When I asked him about U.S. support for the Saudis, he said, “We can’t be complicit. We can’t avoid our responsibility by saying that we don’t know where that jet fuel went.”

Collins voted twice against restricting arms sales, but in June she signed a letter calling on the Saudis not to attack Yemen’s most important port, Hodeida.

Both King and Collins tell their constituents they are “carefully monitoring the situation” in Yemen. But anything less than full-throated opposition is complicity in Saudi Arabia’s barbaric famine campaign. The time for our leaders to act is now.