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House Foreign Affairs leaders introduce Turkey sanctions bill

House Foreign Affairs leaders introduce Turkey sanctions bill
© Greg Nash

The bipartisan leaders of the House Foreign Affairs Committee have officially introduced their bill to sanction Turkey over its invasion of northern Syria.

The bill would target Turkish officials involved in the decision to invade and those committing human rights abuses.

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“What’s happening in northern Syria right now is a disgrace,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelLawmakers on hot mic joke 'aisle hog' Engel absent from Biden address: 'He'd wait all day' Bowman to deliver progressive response to Biden's speech to Congress Liberal advocacy group stirs debate, discomfort with primary challenges MORE (D-N.Y.) said in a statement announcement the bill’s introduction. “Congress must speak out and show decisive action to hold accountable those who created this catastrophe: [Turkish] President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan, who is directing this slaughter, and President TrumpDonald TrumpKinzinger, Gaetz get in back-and-forth on Twitter over Cheney vote READ: Liz Cheney's speech on the House floor Cheney in defiant floor speech: Trump on 'crusade to undermine our democracy' MORE, who opened the door to the Turkish incursion and betrayed our Kurdish partners.”

“The carnage that we have seen over the past week against our Kurdish partners and innocent civilians has been unbearable,” added the committee’s top Republican, Rep. Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulAsian American lawmakers say State's 'assignment restrictions' discriminate Senate Intelligence panel working on legislation around mandatory cyber breach notification McCarthy unveils House GOP task forces, chairs MORE (Texas). “There must be consequences.” 

Turkey launched an offensive against Syrian Kurdish forces last week following Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria, a move widely seen as giving a green light for Erdogan to proceed with the long-threatened invasion.

Engel and McCaul, who previously unveiled draft text of the legislation last week, announced their bill’s introduction shortly after Vice President Pence announced Turkey has agreed to halt its offensive in Syria for 120 hours in order to allow Kurdish forces known as the YPG to evacuate.

The bill is also being introduced a day after the House passed in a 354-60 vote a resolution from Engel and McCaul formally opposing Trump’s withdrawal and urging Turkey to stop its military incursion.

“Yesterday, the House rebuked President Trump with an overwhelming bipartisan majority,” Engel said in his statement “Today, we are introducing sanctions to hold Erdogan accountable. Congress must continue bipartisan work to address the disastrous consequences of President Trump’s decision.”

Lawmakers have been scrambling to respond to Trump’s withdrawal. In addition to Engel and McCaul’s sanctions bill, Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyKinzinger, Gaetz get in back-and-forth on Twitter over Cheney vote READ: Liz Cheney's speech on the House floor Cheney in defiant floor speech: Trump on 'crusade to undermine our democracy' MORE (R-Wyo.) has announced a sanctions bill with 90 Republican co-sponsors. In the Senate, Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham warns about trying to 'drive' Trump from GOP: 'Half the people will leave' Cheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP Lindsey Graham: 'In this fight it is clear — Israel is the good guy and Hamas is the bad' MORE (R-S.C.) and Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenSenate votes to repeal OCC 'true lender' rule The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden, Congress drawn into pipeline cyberattack, violence in Israel The Memo: Outrage rises among liberals over Israel MORE (D-Md.) have introduced sanctions, and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim RischJim Elroy RischAny reduction in Energy Department's cybersecurity resources a mistake Biden cancels military-funded border wall projects Senate panel greenlights sweeping China policy bill MORE (R-Idaho) and committee ranking member Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezDemocrats reintroduce legislation to ban 'ghost guns' Juan Williams: A breakthrough on immigration? Biden rebuffs Democrats, keeps refugee admissions at 15,000 MORE (D-N.J.) have unveiled their own bill.

Engel and McCaul’s bill, which they have dubbed the Protect Against Conflict with Turkey (PACT) Act, would sanction the Turkish defense minister, the Turkish chief of the general staff, a Turkish army commander and the Turkish finance minister.

It would also prohibit arms transfers to Turkish military units in Syria, sanction any foreign person providing arms to Turkish forces in Syria, impose penalties on Turkish financial institutions and force Trump to impose previously congressionally mandated sanctions on Turkey’s purchase of a Russian missile defense system.

The bill would also require reports on the effects of the Turkish invasion on the fight against ISIS and on Erdogan’s net worth and assets.