Engel, Kinzinger, Boyle, Royce Offer Bill to Support Future Security of Syrian People, Hold Assad Regime Accountable

Bipartisan Bill Would Ensure Reconstruction Efforts Are Linked to Human Rights, Political Transition, and Safe Return for Syrian People

December 19, 2017

WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel (D-NY), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs; Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), a member of the Committees on Foreign Affairs and Energy and Commerce; Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-PA), a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs; and Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs today introduced legislation to ensure that the security of the Syrian people will be central to reconstruction and stabilization efforts in Syria. The No Assistance for Assad Act (H.R. 4681) would condition American support for such efforts in Assad-controlled territories on Syrian commitments to human rights; a political transition; and the safe, unfettered and voluntary return of Syrian refugees and internally displaced people.

“Until Assad respects the rights of his people, until they’re on the path toward a better future for themselves, and until there’s accountability for the regime’s war crimes, the United States shouldn’t spend a dime on reconstruction efforts in areas controlled by the regime,” said Rep. Engel. “Buoyed by his patrons in Moscow and Tehran, the Butcher in Damascus broke Syria. Now he and his regime have to pay the price. We should not support any scenario that leaves him in power to continue his violence and oppression against the Syrian people.”

“The genocide of the Syrian people by Bashar al Assad and his Russian and Iranian backers may be the worst humanitarian crisis of our generation. We cannot and must not allocate any resources to the brutal Assad regime in reconstructing what he has destroyed. As co-chair of the Friends of a Free, Stable and Democratic Syria Caucus, our goal will continue to be in support of the people of Syria who simply seek to live free and in peace. Today, we introduce this legislation to ensure Assad will pay the price for his oppression and violence,” said Rep. Kinzinger.

“Assad purposely and systematically destroyed Syrian communities in order to retain his political power, with the help of his Russian and Iranian supporters,” said Rep. Boyle. “As co-chair of the Friends of a Free, Stable and Democratic Syria Caucus, I believe we in Congress must do all we can to ensure that the welfare of the Syrian people remains the top priority of our involvement in the region, and condition any engagement with the Assad regime as such. This legislation is a critical safeguard to that end.”

“I want to thank Reps. Kinzinger and Boyle for their leadership on this common-sense legislation to ensure that U.S. aid does not strengthen the Assad regime and its Iranian-backed militias. For nearly seven years now, the Syrian people have been subject to widespread atrocities, including chemical attacks. This bill represents the latest in a series of measures Ranking Member Engel and I have worked to pass in the Foreign Affairs Committee to hold Assad and his enablers accountable,” said Rep. Royce.

The legislation would place conditions on American assistance for early recovery, stabilization and reconstruction in Syrian territories controlled by the Assad regime. Such assistance would only be available on the condition that the regime:

  • Ceases indiscriminate use of weapons and any attacks against civilians and civilian facilities;
  • Releases all political prisoners and provides full access to Syrian prisons for investigations by appropriate international human rights organizations;
  • Removes senior officials of the Government of Syria who are complicit in human rights abuses;
  • Moves to organize free and fair elections for a new government to establish an independent judiciary;
  • Respects and compiles with internationally recognized human rights;
  • Fulfills its commitments under the chemical weapons convention;
  • Halts the development and deployment of ballistic and cruise missiles;
  • Removes human rights abusers from positions of authority within the military, intelligence, and security services;
  • Minimizes the Government of Syria’s reliance on Iran and Iranian proxy forces to act on behalf or in support of Syria; and
  • Commences a process to organize the safe, unfettered and voluntary return of Syrian refugees and internally displaced persons to their homes.

The limitation would not apply to projects administered by the local community or humanitarian assistance.  The President would also be required must submit annual reports to Congress detailing any projects that utilize the exceptions and laying out a strategy for getting humanitarian assistance to besieged areas.

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