McConnell sends warning shot on Turkey sanctions after House vote

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOn The Money: Biden, Pelosi struggle with end of eviction ban | Trump attorney says he will fight release of tax returns Graham's COVID-19 'breakthrough' case jolts Senate McConnell warns Democrats against 'artificial timeline' for infrastructure deal 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 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.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham's COVID-19 'breakthrough' case jolts Senate Graham says he has COVID-19 'breakthrough' infection Graham, Cuellar press Biden to name border czar MORE (R-S.C.) are publicly urging McConnell to take up the House-passed legislation. 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 Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezThis week: Senate starts infrastructure sprint Lobbying world This week: Congress starts summer sprint 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."