Washington D.C.—Congressman Michael McCaul (R-TX), Lead Republican of the House Foreign Affairs Committee spoke on the House Floor in support of the bipartisan Protect Against Conflict by Turkey Act (PACT ACT), legislation that gives the Administration additional leverage to sanction Turkey for its recent actions and helps to ensure Turkey upholds the ceasefire agreement. McCaul also recognized the successful mission to eliminate ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and urged his colleagues to continue supporting our vital counter-ISIS campaign in the region. 

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-Remarks as Delivered-

“Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 4695, the Protect Against Conflict by Turkey Act.

“The death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi this past weekend is a major win in our counter-ISIS campaign. I congratulate our brave special operators for a job well done, the men and women of our intelligence community, and our President for a bold decision. The world is better off without this sick and deranged leader of the so-called caliphate.

“Baghdadi still has thousands of followers committed to terrorism. And While their leader’s death is a huge blow, we must stay vigilant to keep them from reconstituting or carrying out attacks in the West and to our homeland. With that, we cannot allow Turkey’s invasion to hinder in any way our counter-ISIS campaign.

“My friend, Chairman Eliot Engel, and I co-authored this legislation to give the White House additional Congressional support to sanction Turkey for its recent actions, and the leverage to ensure Turkey upholds the vital ceasefire negotiated by Vice President Pence.

“In the President’s own words, “Should Turkey fail to honor its obligations – including the protection of religion and ethnic minorities – we reserve the right to re-impose crippling sanctions…”

“In addition, our bill ensures that there are Presidential waivers to provide flexibility for the administration on how almost all the sanctions are administered. This bill incentivizes Turkey to comply with the ceasefire. If they do not, there will be consequences in the form of crippling sanctions.”

“Turkey is also a vital NATO member and I am hopeful they will cease their destabilizing actions and act as a responsible partner.

“With that in mind, let’s recap how we got here are today. On October 9, Erdogan’s forces charged across the border, unleashing a potential humanitarian crisis for the people in Northern Syria.  The assault has expanded Assad and Putin’s grip on Syrian territory. And as I said two weeks ago, I am concerned that this incursion will damage U.S. interests in the Middle East and the Syrian people, including the Kurds, our allies. 

“The only beneficiaries of more violence and more chaos in Syria are America’s adversaries, and that is Vladimir Putin, Bashar al-Assad, Iran and terror groups like ISIS.

“On October 17, the Administration brokered a ceasefire with Turkey which has held to date. This has helped to stabilize the situation and prevented a worst-case scenario from taking place. I applaud the Vice President and Secretary Pompeo for that delicate negotiation with President Erdogan and believe our bipartisan resolution which disapproved of the Turkish incursion last week,  I believe helped in these negotiations. 

“My bill today with Mr. Engel codifies the Administration’s agreement in Ankara and will help to strengthen the President’s hand in ensuring that Turkey upholds its commitments.  

“Our bill imposes penalties on Turkey if it continues its offensive in Northern Syria. Specifically, it sanctions Turkish officials involved in the military operation in Syria. It blocks US weapons sales to Turkey that could be used in Syria, and sanctions foreign entities selling such weapons to Turkey. And it sanctions banks supporting Turkey’s defense sector in the Syria campaign. Our bill also requires the Administration to develop plans to adjust our counter-terrorism strategy to respond to the changing situation on the ground.

“And I’m pleased the Administration heard our call for a residual force in Syria. I can think of nothing more dangerous than withdrawing all of our troops from Syria as we saw when we were under the previous Administration from Iraq- the 10,000 forces.

“That’s when we saw the rise of ISIS and the so-called caliphate. We will have a residual force in Syria working with the SDF and the Kurds to help defeat and make sure ISIS is never again a threat to the homeland. Finally, it identifies Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 system as a transaction subject to sanctions under the Counting America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act or CAATSA. That’s very important. How can you be a NATO ally and purchase Russian military equipment.

“We let Turkey into NATO to protect them from the Soviet Union. And now our NATO ally is buying Russian equipment, Russian military equipment, and through its invasion into Syria, threatening our allies. For these reasons, I urge support of this bill. And once again, I want to thank Chairman Engel for once again coming to a bipartisan resolution. When once again they said it couldn’t be done, Mr. Chairman, we got it done. I thank you for that.”