Weekly Democratic Address
November 1, 2019
I’m Eliot Engel, Congressman from New York.
As Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, I spend a lot of time focused on America’s role in the world.
And we know that our foreign policy can and should be a force for good; rooted in our values, like supporting human rights and human dignity, and built on the power of partnerships and alliances.
Our country is strongest when we are standing with our friends around the world. And that’s especially true when it comes to combatting some of the greatest global threats we face, like terrorism.
So, what the President has done in Syria over the past few weeks is devastating. He handed a gift to Russia, Iran and ISIS, making us less safe.
He started by giving Turkey’s thuggish leader, President Erdogan, the greenlight to invade Syria and attack America’s loyal partners, the Kurds. This went against the advice of our national security experts and military advisors, and it was a stab in the back to our faithful Kurdish partners, who fought side-by-side with us against ISIS.
What followed was a horrific campaign, with Turkish forces slaughtering our Syrian Kurdish partners. Already, nearly 200,000 people, including women, children and families, have been forcibly driven from their homeland.
And as they fight to survive this onslaught, the Kurds have been forced to abandon their watch over the prisons holding thousands of ISIS fighters. Over a hundred terrorists have already escaped, as a result.
Now, the situation in northeast Syria is a humanitarian and national security crisis. In a region already rife with conflict, Turkey’s military operation is wreaking even more havoc.
And when it became clear that the Turkish military was destabilizing the region, spreading bloodshed and chaos, creating an opening for America’s enemies to regroup and thrive; what did President Trump do?
He walked away.
Rather than contain the national security threat to our country and hold Turkey accountable for how they’ve carried out this bloody campaign, President Trump gave them a free pass.
And in doing so, he sent a message to the rest of the world – there’s no longer real leadership coming from the Oval Office.
Now, it’s on Congress to step in.
So, this week, House Democrats held Turkey accountable and countered the national security threats created by President Trump.
On Thursday, the House passed my bill, the Protect Against Conflict by Turkey Act.
The PACT Act underscores the devastating consequences of Turkey’s invasion and President Trump’s decision to step back and let it happen. It employs smart sanctions to press Erdogan to halt violence against Syrian Kurdish communities and withdraw from Syria. And it ensures that Syrians who partnered with American forces and worked with NGOs and humanitarian organizations can be safely resettled in the United States.
The bill also requires the Trump Administration to develop a thorough strategy to combat ISIS. Because right now, Trump has no strategy to ensure ISIS doesn’t regroup and threaten the U.S. and our allies once again. One after another, Trump’s disastrous decisions have made it all the more likely that ISIS will reemerge as a grave threat.
The House will not stand for President Trump endangering the American people with his reckless foreign policy. Our victory in passing this legislation will help keep Americans safe, showing the true meaning of American leadership.
True leadership means standing with our friends and partners, keeping our promises. It means supporting our military, making sure we are doing our part as they put their lives on the line. It means protecting human rights and human dignity, speaking out and pushing back against injustice and terror.
True American leadership is keeping our country safe. And that’s exactly what we’re doing with this legislation, and what we are doing in the House every single day.