Washington D.C.—Representative Michael McCaul (R-TX), Lead Republican of the House Foreign Affairs Committee spoke on the House Floor in support of the bicameral, bipartisan measure opposing Turkey’s assault on Syria: 

For a video of the remarks as delivered, click here.

“Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I’d like to first begin with thanking Chairmen Engel for his bipartisan work to craft legislation in response to this week’s developments. We often say in our committee that politics stops at the water’s edge. In this time of crisis, I’m proud to work with him to lead the most bipartisan committee in the congress. Today may be a dark day but it would be darker if we were divided instead of standing united.

“Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this joint resolution, simply put, the catastrophe that has unfolded in Syria over the past 10 days is almost beyond words. I am concerned about the extreme long-term damage this has caused to the United States’ interests in the Middle East and to the Syrian people, including the Kurds. The United States has worked for years to prevent an armed conflict between our NATO ally Turkey and the Syrian Kurdish partners.

Our presence in Syria was critical to countering and defeating ISIS, and until last week, helped prevent unnecessary bloodshed. Working with the Syrian Democratic Forces, the U.S. and our coalition partners eliminated ISIS’ control of territory in Syria and we’re continuing to fight ISIS insurgents. I understand the Administration’s legitimate concerns about engaging our U.S. forces in long-term military operations. I too want to wind down our overseas conflicts and bring our troops home.  But leaving Northeast Syria now does not resolve the problems that brought us there in the first place, it only creates more. We need to have a residual force in place.  The consequences of this decision have already unfolded before our very eyes.

“We have betrayed the trust of our Kurdish partners, who fought bravely with us against ISIS to defeat and destroy the caliphate, and they paid a heavy price in thousands of lives lost. We must remember that Turkey’s offensive affects not only Kurds, but also people of Northeastern Syria. So far, dozens of civilians have been killed and over 160,000 people have been displaced. Islamic State prisoners, jihadists, and affiliates are already breaking free, reversing our hard-fought gains to defeat these dangerous terrorists.

“And now our Syrian Kurdish partners have struck a deal with the Syrian regime. This gives Assad and his Russian and Iranian backers more territory and opportunity to advance their destabilizing agendas, including their war on the Syrian people. My colleague Eliot Engel and I drafted this resolution to show that we do not support this decision by the Administration and to call on Turkey to end this destructive campaign in Syria. We urge the United States to support the affected communities in Northeast Syria, including the Kurds and call upon the administration to support our Kurdish partners and stand with them just like they had stood for us for so long. And given the grave implications that an ISIS resurgence would have for our homeland security, we call on the Administration to provide an updated counter-ISIS strategy.

“I do support the Administration’s decision to impose sanctions on key Turkish officials, and make clear that there are more consequences for continuing this invasion.  But more pressure is needed. Congress is only just beginning its work to repair the damage this decision has caused. Chairman Engel and I are working together on a bipartisan bill to sanction Turkey for as long as it continues this destructive offensive.

“I look forward to working with the Chairman to bring this bill to the floor as soon as possible. And I urge all members to support this Joint Resolution.”