U.S. House Committee on Rules has cleared Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Dave Trott’s (R-MI) Turkey sanctions amendment for vote this week by the full House of Representatives, with three more measures, presented by Representatives Don Beyer (D-VA), David Cicilline (D-RI) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) set for consideration by the panel later today, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
The Trott Amendment opposes the $1.2 million sale of U.S. semi-automatic handguns to Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s security detail, in response to their May 16th attack on peaceful protesters in Washington, DC.
“Over the past few months, we’ve seen our NATO allies take extraordinary steps against Turkey, and it’s time for the State Department to do the same,” said Rep. Trott. “We need to block this arms sale and once and for all point a finger in Erdogan’s chest and tell him that a strategic location does not place Turkey above the law.”
Rep. Trott went on to note that, “just two months ago, Erdogan’s henchmen, with him complacently observing just feet away, launched a brutal attack on peaceful protesters exercising their first amendment rights. A notorious oppressor of basic human rights and freedom, Erdogan imported his nefarious attitudes to our nation’s capital. While Erdogan’s thugs may run unchecked in Ankara, this is the United States of America and this is totally unacceptable.”
The ANCA welcomed the House Rules Committee decision. “We are pleased to see the Trott Amendment approved for U.S. House consideration this week and look forward to the Rules Committee providing all of their House colleagues with the opportunity for an up or down vote on additional Turkey sanctions proposed by Reps. Cicilline, Rohrabacher, and Beyer,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian.”
“Up on Capitol Hill, across the Washington, DC foreign policy community, and even among career Department of State and Pentagon officials, it’s increasingly clear that May 16th marked a watershed moment in U.S.-Turkey relations – a defining, clarifying, deeply troubling anti-American episode that will, in the months and years to come, continue to inform key areas of engagement by U.S. policymakers with their Turkish counterparts.”
The House Rules Committee is set to convene at 3:00pm today (July 12th) to consider the other Turkey sanctions measures as part of the over 300 amendments submitted to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA – H.R.2810). The full House will be considering and voting on the measure on July 13th and 14th.
Rep. Beyer’s amendment would ban Erdogan’s security forces who took part in the May 16th attack from securing U.S. visas for future travel to the United States. Rep. Beyer has been outspoken in condemning the brutal beatings, calling for the expulsion of the Turkish Ambassador to the U.S. and signing multiple Congressional letters condemning the attacks.
Rep. Cicilline’s proposal would block a pending sale of F-35 jets to Turkey “until the President of the United States certifies that the Government of Turkey is cooperating with the criminal investigation and prosecution of Turkish Government employees involved in the assault on civilians in Washington, DC.” Rep. Cicilline has been outspoken in condemning the attacks, noting that “this was a particularly brazen act, on the heels of a highly publicized meeting with our President, and one has to wonder why President Erdogan felt so emboldened, that in the bright D.C. sunshine, in front of cameras and hundreds of people, he sent his attack dogs out. As Secretary Tillerson said, this is simply unacceptable.”
Rep. Rohrabacher’s amendment would prohibit the transfer of U.S. defense articles to Turkey and, instead, make them available to Kurdish Peshmerga forces, who have played an instrumental role in the battle against the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL). Rep. Rohrabacher, who serves as Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, presided over the hearings spotlighting the Erdogan-ordered attacks in May.