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McConnell sends warning shot on Turkey sanctions after House vote

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellLoeffler meets with McConnell amid speculation of another Senate run Manchin opens door to supporting scaled-down election reform bill Pelosi, Schumer must appoint new commissioners to the CARES Act oversight panel 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 HollenZombie Tax punishes farmers to fill DC coffers Democrats face new pressure to raise taxes Democrats reintroduce bill to create 'millionaires surtax' MORE (D-Md.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamOn The Money: Yellen, Powell brush off inflation fears | Fed keeps rates steady, upgrades growth projections Democrats shift tone on unemployment benefits Bipartisan infrastructure group grows to 20 senators MORE (R-S.C.) are publicly urging McConnell to take up the House-passed legislation. Sens. Jim RischJim Elroy RischGOP lawmakers urge Biden to add sanctions on Russia over Navalny poisoning GOP senators introduce bill to make Iran deal subject to Senate approval US, Iran nuclear talks to resume this weekend MORE (R-Idaho) and Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezSchumer says Senate will vote on repealing 2002 war authorization The Hill's Morning Report - Biden-Putin meeting to dominate the week Sanders drops bid to block Biden's Israel arms sale 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."