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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 EngelOffice of Special Counsel widens Pompeo probe into Hatch Act violations  Overnight Defense: Trump, Biden set to meet in final debate | Explicit Fort Bragg tweets were sent by account administrator | China threatens retaliation over Taiwan arms sale Is Trump a better choice for Jewish voters than Biden? 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 John TrumpTrump admin to announce coronavirus vaccine will be covered under Medicare, Medicaid: report Election officials say they're getting suspicious emails that may be part of malicious attack on voting: report McConnell tees up Trump judicial pick following Supreme Court vote 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 McCaulBiden endorses Texas Democratic House candidate Julie Oliver Warren, Porter to headline progressive fundraiser supporting seven swing state candidates Bipartisan action needed to counter Chinese influence 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 CheneyMcCarthy faces pushback from anxious Republicans over interview comments Steve King defends past comments on white supremacy, blasts NYT and GOP leaders in fiery floor speech GOP lawmakers distance themselves from Trump comments on transfer of power MORE (R-Wyo.) has announced a sanctions bill with 90 Republican co-sponsors. In the Senate, Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGOP Senate confirms Trump Supreme Court pick to succeed Ginsburg Murkowski predicts Barrett won't overturn Roe v. Wade Biden seeks to close any path for Trump win in race's final days MORE (R-S.C.) and Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenDemocratic senators unveil bill to ban discrimination in financial services industry Senate Democrats call for ramped up Capitol coronavirus testing Democratic senators offer bill to make payroll tax deferral optional for federal workers MORE (D-Md.) have introduced sanctions, and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim RischJames (Jim) Elroy RischWhy the US should rely more on strategy, not sanctions Davis: The Hall of Shame for GOP senators who remain silent on Donald Trump Senators blast Turkey's move to convert Hagia Sophia back into a mosque MORE (R-Idaho) and committee ranking member Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezSenate Democrats hold talkathon to protest Barrett's Supreme Court nomination Watchdog confirms State Dept. canceled award for journalist who criticized Trump Kasie Hunt to host lead-in show for MSNBC's 'Morning Joe' 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.