McConnell sends warning shot on Turkey sanctions after House vote

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellLindsey Graham basks in the impeachment spotlight Biden not ruling out Senate voting to impeach Trump: 'It will depend on what their constituency says' Congress hunts for path out of spending stalemate MORE (R-Ky.) hit a cautionary note about the prospect of passing new Turkey sanctions on Thursday, days after a bill easily passed the House.

McConnell, speaking from the Senate floor, urged senators to "carefully examine" if a broad sanctions bill "is really the best solution." 

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"We should think carefully about what specific effect we want sanctions to have, how Turkey will respond to them and how Russia and others may explore growing tensions between Washington and Ankara," McConnell said. 

The House on Tuesday passed legislation slapping new sanctions on Turkey in a 403-16 vote, with 176 Republicans voting in support and just 15 opposing the bill.

The vote comes weeks after the United States pulled U.S. troops from northern Syria, paving the way for Turkey's military invasion. The decision sparked bipartisan backlash on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers warned it would endanger the Kurds and bolster ISIS. 

The House-passed bill, dubbed the Protect Against Conflict by Turkey Act, imposes financial and visa penalties on officials connected to Turkey’s offensive in Syria, including the defense minister, the chief of the general staff of the Turkish armed forces and the finance minister, as well as sanction the state-owned bank Halkbank.

The bill would also ban arms sales to Turkey and sanction foreigners providing arms to Turkish forces in Syria. It also seeks to force the administration to impose the previously mandated sanctions for Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense system. 

Sens. Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenOn The Money: Retirement savings bill blocked in Senate after fight over amendments | Stopgap bill may set up December spending fight | Hardwood industry pleads for relief from Trump trade war GAO reviewing Trump hold on Ukraine military aid Democrats unveil proposal for 'millionaires surtax' MORE (D-Md.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamLindsey Graham basks in the impeachment spotlight Trump circuit court nominee in jeopardy amid GOP opposition The Hill's Morning Report - Impeachment drama will dominate this week MORE (R-S.C.) are publicly urging McConnell to take up the House-passed legislation. Sens. Jim RischJames (Jim) Elroy RischOvernight Defense: Protests at Trump's NYC Veterans Day speech | House Dems release Pentagon official's deposition transcript | Lawmakers ask Trump to rescind Erdogan invite Trump encounters GOP resistance to investigating Hunter Biden Graham: Schiff comment on inquiry findings 'full of crap' MORE (R-Idaho) and Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezTrump encounters GOP resistance to investigating Hunter Biden Fairness, tradition, and the Constitution demand the 'whistleblower' step forward Isolationism creeps back over America, as the president looks out for himself MORE (D-N.J.), the top members of the Foreign Relations Committee, have also introduced a narrower sanctions bill.  

But McConnell, speaking on the Senate floor, outlined myriad concerns he believes the Senate needs to understand before lawmakers take up any sanctions proposal. 

"We should seek a better understanding of the specific economic impact that broad sanctions also have. ... Will sanctions rally them to our cause or to [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan’s? Will more targeted sanctions perhaps avoid some of these unintended consequences?” McConnell asked. 

He added that "these are just some of the critical questions with which I hope our committees of jurisdiction and the administration are able to examine before we act."