Turkey sanctions face possible wall in GOP Senate

An effort to quickly slap new sanctions on Turkey or formally oppose President TrumpDonald John TrumpKaine: Obama called Trump a 'fascist' during 2016 campaign Kaine: GOP senators should 'at least' treat Trump trial with seriousness of traffic court Louise Linton, wife of Mnuchin, deletes Instagram post in support of Greta Thunberg MORE's Syria strategy is hitting a wall in the Senate. 

Republicans are discussing potential legislation to respond to the fallout of Trump's decision to pull back U.S. troops and Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria. 

But there’s little sign the Senate will be able to act quickly, despite widespread opposition to Trump’s strategy.


And there are already deep divisions within the caucus about what, if anything, should pass, complicating the chance of any bill getting through the GOP-controlled chamber. 

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneNo. 2 GOP leader eyes Wednesday of next week for possible votes on witnesses Restlessness, light rule-breaking and milk spotted on Senate floor as impeachment trial rolls on Republicans take aim at Nadler for saying GOP senators complicit in 'cover-up' MORE (R-S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican, noted that there “was a lot of interest” within the GOP caucus, but stopped short of predicting that something could clear the chamber. 

“I’m not sure,” he said, asked if a resolution or sanctions could pass. “I think our members are kind of looking at some of the things that are out there.” 

The administration agreed to not apply additional sanctions against Turkey during a five-day cease-fire meant to allow Kurdish fighters to evacuate. After that, a permanent cease-fire would take place and, in return, the Trump administration would agree to drop sanctions announced last week. 

Those commitments by the administration are complicating the GOP efforts to pass legislation sanctioning Ankara.

Despite the ceasefire deal, lawmakers are pledging to push forward with legislation.  

The House already passed a resolution breaking with Trump’s Syria decision in an 354-60 vote, and House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiClinton says Zuckerberg has 'authoritarian' views on misinformation Trump defense team signals focus on Schiff Trump legal team offers brisk opening defense of president MORE (D-Calif.) has vowed the chamber would take up a "strong, bipartisan sanctions package." That vote was expected to take place this week, but a Democrat aide said it had been delayed due to changes to the House schedule in the wake of Rep. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsBaltimore unveils plaques for courthouse to be named after Elijah Cummings GOP leaders encourage retiring lawmakers to give up committee posts Pelosi taps Virginia Democrat for key post on economic panel MORE' passing. 

A pair of Republican senators are pledging to move forward with their own sanctions legislation despite the cease-fire agreement.

“I am continuing to go forward on getting co-sponsors,” Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSunday shows preview: Lawmakers prepare for week two of impeachment trial Trump defense team signals focus on Schiff Trump legal team offers brisk opening defense of president MORE (R-S.C.), a Trump ally who has broken with the president over the issue, told reporters after the cease-fire agreement. 

Asked how confident he was that the five-day cease-fire would become permanent, he added with a laugh: “It’s the Mideast for God’s sake.” 

Graham introduced sanctions legislation with Sen. Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenFox's Napolitano: There is 'ample and uncontradicted' evidence supporting Trump's removal from office Sen. Van Hollen releases documents from GAO investigation Democrats shoot down talk of Bolton, Hunter Biden witness swap MORE (D-Md.) that would target Turkey’s military, energy sector and key banks. It also restricts the ability for top Turkish officials to travel to the United States and targets their assets within U.S. jurisdiction. 

But Graham’s bill has attracted high-profile opposition, including from Sens. Jim RischJames (Jim) Elroy RischSchiff sparks blowback with head on a 'pike' line Senators ask FDA to crack down on non-dairy milks, cheeses MSNBC's Chris Hayes knocks senators for ducking out of impeachment trial: 'You can resign' MORE (R-Idaho) and James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeBroad, bipartisan rebuke for proposal to pull troops from Africa Lawmakers push back at Pentagon's possible Africa drawdown Senators take oath for impeachment trial MORE (R-Okla.), the chairman of the Foreign Relations and Armed Services committees. 


Risch has introduced his own bill with Sen. Robert MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezMedia's selective outrage exposed in McSally-Raju kerfuffle Dem senators say Iran threat to embassies not mentioned in intelligence briefing Overnight Defense: Iran crisis eases as Trump says Tehran 'standing down' | Dems unconvinced on evidence behind Soleimani strike | House sets Thursday vote on Iran war powers MORE (D-N.J.), the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee. It would restrict arms sales to Turkey, sanction Turkish officials and authorize humanitarian assistance for Syrian civilians. 

“We have our own bill. This is a bipartisan bill. We have talked to many, many people who are interested in this, not the least of which is the administration. This is a bill that actually has a very significant possibility of becoming law,” Risch said.

Graham downplayed Risch’s legislation, suggesting there was room for multiple bills. 

“He’s got his own bill. This is good. I hope we have like 100 bills,” he said. 

Inhofe, meanwhile, said that he supports additional sanctions against Turkey but that he thought there was a “better approach" than the Graham-Van Hollen bill.

Pressed for details on what he thought would be a better approach, Inhofe was tightlipped, only telling reporters “this is something that's a work in progress that I'm participating in.” 

Syria has emerged as a flashpoint in the relationship between Trump and Republicans on Capitol Hill, most of whom have generally been reluctant to publicly air their grievances with the White House.

GOP lawmakers decried Trump’s Syria strategy as “catastrophic,” a “grave mistake” and the “biggest blunder of his presidency.” Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyKaine: GOP senators should 'at least' treat Trump trial with seriousness of traffic court Des Moines Register endorses Elizabeth Warren as Democratic presidential nominee Romney: 'It's very likely I'll be in favor of witnesses' in Trump impeachment trial MORE (R-Utah), in a closely watched floor speech, ripped the cease-fire as “far from a victory” and called the president’s decision a “bloodstain in the annals of American history."

And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSchumer: Trump's team made case for new witnesses 'even stronger' Trump, Democrats risk unintended consequences with impeachment arguments CNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group MORE (R-Ky.) used a Washington Post op-ed to send up his latest of red flags about the decision, calling it a “grave strategic mistake.” 

But the cease-fire agreement has earned Trump some, at least temporary, goodwill from GOP lawmakers. 

Rep. Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulTop Indian official canceled congressional meeting over inclusion of Jayapal: report Republican group asks 'what is Trump hiding' in Times Square billboard Conservative group hits White House with billboard ads: 'What is Trump hiding?' MORE (R-Texas), who co-authored the House sanctions bill, told Fox News that he wants to give the administration’s strategy a chance to work. 

“We have a sanctions bill ... that we’re prepared to move forward with if this cease-fire does not work, but we certainly want to give it a chance to see if peace can be accomplished in this region,” he said. 

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Cheney's decision not to run for Senate sparks Speaker chatter Mark Mellman: A failure of GOP leadership MORE (R-Calif.) also said he thought the administration’s strategy had worked and that they should take the lead. 

“Well, you know the thing that you have is that the president was able to do [broker a cease-fire deal] using his sanctions, they got it here,” McCarthy told The Hill on Thursday.  “I think we should allow the president and them [administration officials] to do their work.”

McConnell, despite his unusually public criticism, hasn’t committed to bringing either sanctions legislation or the House-passed resolution up for a vote on the Senate floor. 

He started the process on Friday of placing Graham’s sanctions bill onto the Senate calendar, and has placed the House-passed Syria resolution on the calendar. That does not guarantee either will be brought up for a vote, and initial floor guidance for this week from McConnell’s office did not mention Syria-related legislation. 

McConnell, during a floor speech late last week, said he wanted “something stronger” than the House-passed resolution and appeared to hint that additional legislation could be forthcoming. 

“My preference would be for something even stronger than the resolution the House passed yesterday, which has some serious weaknesses. It is so narrowly drafted that it fails to address the plight of imperiled Sunni Arab and minority Christian communities in Syria. It is backward-looking,” he said. 

He added that “I look forward to continuing to engage with my colleagues … and I expect many of us will have much more to say on this subject very soon.”

But the House resolution has bipartisan support in the Senate, where Menendez and Sen. Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungRestlessness, light rule-breaking and milk spotted on Senate floor as impeachment trial rolls on Impeachment trial forces senators to scrap fundraisers Iran resolution supporters fear impeachment will put it on back burner MORE (R-Ind.) have offered a companion measure.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTrump legal team offers brisk opening defense of president Impeachment has been a dud for Democrats Trump insults Democrats, calls on followers to watch Fox News ahead of impeachment trial MORE (D-N.Y.) tried to get a vote on the House resolution on Thursday but was blocked by Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulLindsey Graham will oppose subpoena of Hunter Biden Marsha Blackburn shares what book she's reading during Trump Senate trial Sekulow indicates Trump should not attend impeachment trial MORE (R-Ky.). 

He indicated on Friday that Democrats will try again, arguing that the best way to get Trump to reverse course would be for McConnell “to put the bipartisan resolution that passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support, on the Senate floor for a vote next week.” 

Graham is also publicly pressuring McConnell to put the resolution up for a vote, predicting it would easily pass the Senate. 

“I believe that same resolution, if brought to the floor of the United States Senate would get over 80 votes,” Graham said. “I'm urging Senator McConnell and Senator Schumer to find a way to do that because people are literally dying as we speak and we want the president to be successful.” 

Juliegrace Brufke contributed.