McConnell sends warning shot on Turkey sanctions after House vote

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellNegotiators remain far apart on coronavirus deal as deadline looms States begin removing Capitol's Confederate statues on their own Skepticism grows over Friday deadline for coronavirus 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 HollenExclusive: Democrats seek to increase racial diversity of pandemic relief oversight board Overnight Defense: Guardsman to testify Lafayette Square clearing was 'unprovoked escalation' | Dems push for controversial Pentagon nominee to withdraw | Watchdog says Pentagon not considering climate change risks to contractors Democrats urge controversial Pentagon policy nominee to withdraw MORE (D-Md.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamYates spars with GOP at testy hearing Trump knocks Sally Yates ahead of congressional testimony Republicans uncomfortably playing defense MORE (R-S.C.) are publicly urging McConnell to take up the House-passed legislation. Sens. Jim RischJames (Jim) Elroy RischSenators blast Turkey's move to convert Hagia Sophia back into a mosque Progressive group backs Democratic challenger to Sen. Risch Republicans start bracing for shutdown fight in run-up to election MORE (R-Idaho) and Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezVOA visa decision could hobble Venezuela coverage Bottom line Koch-backed group urges Senate to oppose 'bailouts' of states in new ads 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."