Turkey sanctions face possible wall in GOP Senate

An effort to quickly slap new sanctions on Turkey or formally oppose President TrumpDonald TrumpSenators introduce bipartisan infrastructure bill in rare Sunday session Gosar's siblings pen op-ed urging for his resignation: 'You are immune to shame' Sunday shows - Delta variant, infrastructure dominate 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.

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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 ThuneBiden's bipartisan deal faces Senate gauntlet Senate votes to take up infrastructure deal Senators say they have deal on 'major issues' in infrastructure talks 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 PelosiManchin on reported boos at Democratic luncheon: 'I heard a lot of nos' Kinzinger supports Jan. 6 panel subpoenas for Republicans, including McCarthy Ocasio-Cortez: Democrats can't blame GOP for end of eviction moratorium 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 CummingsFormer Cummings staffer unveils congressional bid McCarthy, GOP face a delicate dance on Jan. 6 committee Five big questions about the Jan. 6 select committee 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 GrahamGraham, Cuellar press Biden to name border czar Trump takes two punches from GOP The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - US gymnast wins all-around gold as Simone Biles cheers from the stands 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 HollenSenate Democrats press administration on human rights abuses in Philippines Civil rights activist Gloria Richardson dies Senate Democrats hit speedbumps with big spending plans 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 RischJim Elroy RischTracy Stone-Manning's confirmation treatment was simply unacceptable — and it must stop The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - US gymnast wins all-around gold as Simone Biles cheers from the stands The 17 Republicans who voted to advance the Senate infrastructure bill MORE (R-Idaho) and James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeUp next in the culture wars: Adding women to the draft Gillibrand expects vote on military justice bill in fall The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Goldman Sachs - Biden backs Cuban protesters, assails 'authoritarian regime' MORE (R-Okla.), the chairman of the Foreign Relations and Armed Services committees. 

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Risch has introduced his own bill with Sen. Robert MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezLobbying world This week: Congress starts summer sprint The Innovation and Competition Act is progressive policy 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 RomneySenators introduce bipartisan infrastructure bill in rare Sunday session The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - US gymnast wins all-around gold as Simone Biles cheers from the stands The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - A huge win for Biden, centrist senators 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 McConnellSenators introduce bipartisan infrastructure bill in rare Sunday session Manchin 'can't imagine' supporting change to filibuster for voting rights Biden's bipartisan deal faces Senate gauntlet 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 McCaulGOP report on COVID-19 origins homes in on lab leak theory Afghan evacuees to be housed at Virginia base Passport backlog threatens to upend travel plans for millions of Americans 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 McCarthySunday shows - Delta variant, infrastructure dominate Kinzinger supports Jan. 6 panel subpoenas for Republicans, including McCarthy McCarthy jokes it'll be hard not to 'hit' Pelosi with gavel if he is Speaker 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 YoungThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - US gymnast wins all-around gold as Simone Biles cheers from the stands The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - A huge win for Biden, centrist senators The 17 Republicans who voted to advance the Senate infrastructure bill MORE (R-Ind.) have offered a companion measure.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerManchin on reported boos at Democratic luncheon: 'I heard a lot of nos' Wisconsin GOP quietly prepares Ron Johnson backup plans Senate infrastructure talks spill over into rare Sunday session MORE (D-N.Y.) tried to get a vote on the House resolution on Thursday but was blocked by Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulUp next in the culture wars: Adding women to the draft The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - A huge win for Biden, centrist senators Only two people cited by TSA for mask violations have agreed to pay fine 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.