WASHINGTON -- The House Foreign Affairs Committee presented a bipartisan bill to sanction Turkey for invading Syrian territory controlled by the Kurds, as U.S. lawmakers respond to President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw troops from the region.
"I strongly condemn both President Erdogan's decision to attack America's partners in Syria and President Trump's decision to step back and let it happen," Democratic Rep. Eliot Engel, the chairman of the committee, said. "Congress must continue to work in a thorough, bipartisan manner to address the disastrous consequences of President Trump's decision."
The legislation, co-sponsored by Engel and Rep. Michael McCaul, the committee's ranking Republican, would sanction and ban senior Turkish officials involved in the invasion from entering the United States. It would also prohibit the transfer of U.S. defense articles, services, technology or material to Turkey for use in Syria.
"Turkey's military operation has already resulted in civilian casualties and threatens global security by creating conditions that will enable an ISIS resurgence," McCaul, of Texas, said.
On Friday night, the Defense Department said that American troops near Kobani, in northern Syria, had been fired upon by Turkish artillery. No casualties were reported.
The legislation would impose immediate sanctions on Turkish financial institutions that facilitate transactions for the military and defense industry, as well as for the purchase of the Russian-made S-400 missile system. It would also require the administration to come up with a plan to deal with imprisoned Islamic State, or ISIS, fighters in the territory and to assist Syrian Kurdish communities.
The House bill joins a Senate proposal from Republican Lindsey Graham and Democrat Chris Van Hollen that would impose sanctions unless the Trump administration certifies every 90 days that Turkey isn't "operating unilaterally" in Syria.
Republican Rep. Liz Cheney, a member of House leadership, also said Thursday she and nearly 30 of her GOP colleagues planned to introduce a similar measure in the House.
There has been bipartisan outrage this week over Trump's decision to pull U.S. troops from northern Syria where they were partnering with Kurdish fighters to defeat the Islamic State. Even some of Trump's closes allies said they were furious that the U.S. has abandoned a close ally, opening the door for a Turkish offensive that has already killed at lease eight civilians.
The sanction bills probably will be formally introduced next week when Congress returns from recess. It would ultimately be up to Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to decide whether to put them on the floor for a vote.