Bronx, NY—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today made the following statement:

“The administration’s implementation of my legislation, the Syria Caesar Act, is a welcome but overdue step. I began work on this law years ago and have watched in horror as the carnage in Syria has raged unchecked. It shouldn’t have taken so long to get this bill enacted and it shouldn’t have taken Congress to push the administration to take a positive step to address the crisis.

“These designations are meant to target the worst offenders of war profiteering and those responsible for regime violence.  I find particularly useful the Treasury Department’s measures against those who are stealing land of people who fled regime violence to build luxury properties.  No one should profit from the violence against civilians. The humanitarian community is not expected to be affected by this. It is important that the Syrian people be able to access lifesaving assistance. 

“It is unclear why the Administration is relying so heavily on various executive orders.  The difference between the statutory sanctions and executive authority is that the President can easily lift the sanctions pursuant to an executive order.  Caesar Act sanctions are harder to lift: the Syrian regime must fulfill conditions that Congress designed to help bring an end to the conflict.  I sincerely hope that the Administration will implement the Caesar Act with an eye toward changing the regime’s behavior.”

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