Senators continue pushing Turkey sanctions despite Trump deal
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Just hours before President Donald Trump’s announced the U.S. would lift sanctions on Turkey, a different tone from some Republican senators on Capitol Hill.
“I support putting tough sanctions on Turkey that will last until they reverse course,” U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) said during an interview Wednesday morning.
But that course was reversed in a deal struck Wednesday. Turkish officials and the Trump administration have reached what’s being called a permanent cease-fire between Turkey and U.S. backed Kurdish forces in northern Syria.
“Should Turkey fail to honor its obligations… we reserve the right to re-impose crippling sanctions,” Trump said during a news conference Wednesday morning announcing the deal.
That likely stops bills calling for sanctions against Turkey, such as the one co-sponsored by Toomey and led by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.). Toomey is one of many Republicans who opposed the President’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria in the first place.
“I disagreed with removing those American forces as a time when the region was not necessarily able to maintain that stability in the absence of American forces.”
Meanwhile, Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is urging lawmakers not to move too quickly on sanctions, meaning this bill and others may not see action for some time. Senate Democrats have been pushing for McConnell to bring forward the House resolution passed earlier this month, which overwhelmingly condemned Trump’s decision. So far, it’s been blocked twice.
“I hope there will be enough pressure on (Sen. Maj. Leader) Mitch McConnell that he will bring the resolution to the floor ASAP,” said U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii).
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) called the ceasefire agreement a “nonsensical and counterproductive foreign policy decision.”
The deal would re-impose increased steel tariffs, among other economic penalties, if Turkish leaders don’t uphold their obligations, including protecting religious and ethnic minorities.