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 EngelMany Democrats want John Bolton's testimony, but Pelosi stays mum China must be held accountable for its egregious actions against Hong Kong Voice of America not extending foreign journalists' visas: report 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 TrumpDavis: Supreme Court decision is bad news for Trump, good news for Vance Meadows trying to root out suspected White House leakers by feeding them info: Axios Pressley hits DeVos over reopening schools: 'I wouldn't trust you to care for a house plant let alone my child' 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 McCaulCongress pulls punches on Russian bounties firestorm GOP lawmakers raise questions about WHO's coronavirus timeline China must be held accountable for its egregious actions against Hong Kong 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 CheneySome in Congress want to keep sending our troops to Afghanistan Biggs, Massie call on Trump to remove troops from Afghanistan Russian bounties revive Trump-GOP foreign policy divide MORE (R-Wyo.) has announced a sanctions bill with 90 Republican co-sponsors. In the Senate, Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham says he will call Mueller to testify before Senate panel about Russia probe Romney blasts Trump's Stone commutation: 'Historic corruption' Lincoln Project offers list of GOP senators who 'protect' Trump in new ad MORE (R-S.C.) and Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenMaryland GOP governor who's criticized Trump says he's considering 2024 presidential run Communist China won't change — until its people and the West demand it Senate passes sanctions bill targeting China over Hong Kong law MORE (D-Md.) have introduced sanctions, and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman 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 committee ranking member Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezKoch-backed group urges Senate to oppose 'bailouts' of states in new ads Thomas Kean wins GOP primary to take on Rep. Tom Malinowski Trump administration moves to formally withdraw US from WHO 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.