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 EngelHillicon Valley: Facebook reports huge spike in usage during pandemic | Democrats push for mail-in voting funds in coronavirus stimulus | Trump delays deadline to acquire REAL ID Lawmakers urge EU to sanction Putin associate for election interference Democrats press Pompeo to help Americans stranded abroad amid coronavirus 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 fires intelligence community inspector general who flagged Ukraine whistleblower complaint Trump organization has laid off over 1000 employees due to pandemic: report Trump invokes Defense Production Act to prevent export of surgical masks, gloves 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 McCaulGraham asks colleagues to support call for China to close wet markets China sees chance to expand global influence amid pandemic Hillicon Valley: Apple rolls out coronavirus screening app, website | Pompeo urged to crack down on coronavirus misinformation from China | Senators push FTC on price gouging | Instacart workers threaten strike 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 CheneySelf-quarantined New York lawmaker: 'We should be in total lockdown' On The Money: Trump hopes to reopen economy by Easter | GOP senators expect stimulus vote on Wednesday | Democratic leaders forecast at least two more relief bills Trump triggers congressional debate with comments on reopening economy MORE (R-Wyo.) has announced a sanctions bill with 90 Republican co-sponsors. In the Senate, Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham asks colleagues to support call for China to close wet markets Justice IG pours fuel on looming fight over FISA court Trump says he's considering restricting travel to coronavirus 'hot spots' MORE (R-S.C.) and Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenOvernight Defense: Lawmakers call for probe into aircraft carrier captain's firing | Sailors cheer ousted commander | Hospital ship to ease screening process for patients Lawmakers call for investigation into aircraft carrier captain's firing Lawmakers call for unemployment benefits for evacuated Peace Corps volunteers MORE (D-Md.) have introduced sanctions, and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim RischJames (Jim) Elroy RischTensions boil over on Senate floor amid coronavirus debate  Overnight Defense: Pentagon confirms Iran behind recent rocket attack | Esper says 'all options on the table' | Military restricts service member travel over coronavirus Graham warns of 'aggressive' response to Iran-backed rocket attack that killed US troops MORE (R-Idaho) and committee ranking member Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezHillicon Valley: Facebook launches portal for coronavirus information | EU sees spike in Russian misinformation on outbreak | Senate Dem bill would encourage mail-in voting | Lawmakers question safety of Google virus website Democratic senators press Google over privacy of coronavirus screening site Menendez calls for 'Marie Yovanovitch bill' to protect foreign service employees 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.