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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 EngelState Department sets up new bureau for cybersecurity and emerging technologies How Congress dismissed women's empowerment 2020: A year in photos 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 TrumpSchumer: Impeachment trial will be quick, doesn't need a lot of witnesses Nurse to be tapped by Biden as acting surgeon general: report Schumer calls for Biden to declare climate emergency 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 McCaulKremlin: US statements about pro-Navalny protests show 'direct support for the violation of the law' Thousands detained at pro-Navalny rallies in Moscow Cheney tests Trump grip on GOP post-presidency 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 CheneyTrump, allies raise pressure on Senate GOP ahead of impeachment Trump establishes 'Office of the Former President' in Florida Cheney spokesperson on Gaetz: 'In Wyoming, the men don't wear make-up' MORE (R-Wyo.) has announced a sanctions bill with 90 Republican co-sponsors. In the Senate, Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSenators spar over validity of Trump impeachment trial Trump selects South Carolina lawyer for impeachment trial Democrats formally elect Harrison as new DNC chair MORE (R-S.C.) and Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenSenators introduce bill to award Officer Goodman the Congressional Gold Medal Romney calls for Senate to pass sanctions on Putin over Navalny poisoning 'I saw my life flash before my eyes': An oral history of the Capitol attack MORE (D-Md.) have introduced sanctions, and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim RischJim Elroy RischBiden must wait weekend for State Department pick The Hill's Morning Report - Biden takes office, calls for end to 'uncivil war' Senate confirms Biden's intel chief, giving him first Cabinet official MORE (R-Idaho) and committee ranking member Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezBiden must wait weekend for State Department pick Senate presses Biden's pick for secretary of State on Iran, China, Russia and Yemen Year-end deal creates American Latino, women's history museums 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.