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Chairman Risch Touts Victories in Passage of NDAA Including Nord Stream 2 Sanctions, Caesar Bill

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today applauded the inclusion of several committee-related provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 (NDAA), which passed by a vote of 86-8.

“I applaud the overwhelmingly bipartisan passage of the NDAA for fiscal year 2020 today,” said Risch. “In addition to fulfilling our obligations to the U.S. military, this year’s NDAA also includes a number of important provisions related to my work on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee – notably, provisions related to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, and a limitation on the transfer of advanced fighter aircraft to Turkey.

“Projects such as the Nord Stream 2 pipeline are a threat to European energy security and a provocation by the Russian government. Imposing sanctions that will prevent the completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is an important tool to counter Russia’s malign influence and to protect the integrity of Europe’s energy sector. Passage of this legislation has been a major priority of mine over the last 12 months, and I am pleased to have secured its passage in the final NDAA. I am glad this year’s NDAA includes these widely supported sanctions, and I hope all parties involved will realize that stopping this project is in the best interest of our friends and allies who wish to curb Putin’s efforts to make Europe reliant on Russian energy.

“Over the course of Syria’s 8-year long civil war, the Assad regime and its Russian and Iranian backers have carried out numerous human rights violations and other atrocities against the Syrian people. The inclusion of the Caesar Syria Civil Protection Act in the NDAA is an important victory for the Syrian people. This legislation will hold Assad and his backers accountable for their atrocities. Further, this legislation sends a loud message to those who seek to normalize or rehabilitate this criminal regime. I would particularly like to thank the Syrian-American community, including organizations such as the Syrian Institute for Progress, for their work to get this important legislation across the finish line. The Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act has been a priority for me since I went to the Senate floor in December 2018 to ask for the Senate to give unanimous consent on its passage. It is past time for this bill to be signed into law, but I am very pleased that its time has come.

“Under no circumstance will the United States allow Turkish President Erdogan to retain Russian S-400s and the F-35 aircraft at the same time. As chairman, preventing the transfer of any F-35s and related equipment to Turkey while it possesses these Russian defense systems has been a major priority for me, and the inclusion of a provision blocking funds for this transfer is a welcome addition to this year’s NDAA. I hope President Erdogan will reconsider his position on keeping the S-400s, and return to the principles of NATO membership that Turkey has followed for decades.”

Details of Senator Risch’s priorities in the FY 2020 NDAA are below:

  • Nord Stream 2 Pipeline Sanctions (Title LXXV - Sec.7503): Advocated for by Senator Risch, this provision will sanction companies laying the Nord Stream 2 pipeline in the sea between Russia and Germany if they do not cease their operations. The Nord Stream 2 pipeline project poses a serious threat to Europe’s energy security by increasing its dependence on Russian gas and bypassing Ukrainian transit, and these sanctions will counter Russia’s malign influence while helping protect the integrity of Europe’s energy sector. Click here to learn more.
  • Caesar Syria Civil Protection Act (Title LXXIV): This legislation authorizes sanctions against the Assad regime and its Russian and Iranian backers for committing countless atrocities against the Syrian people. With nearly half a million lives lost, and millions more displaced from their homes, this legislation in an important step in ensuring the Assad regime and its backers are held accountable for their actions. Click here to learn more.
  • Limitation of Funds to Transfer F-35s to Turkey (Title XII - Sec.1245): This provision ensures no U.S. Department of Defense funds may be used to transfer any F-35 aircraft or related parts to Turkey while Russian S-400s are in the country under Turkish control. Senator Risch met with Turkish President Erdogan at the White House in November to reaffirm the Senate’s firm position that Turkey cannot retain both equipment at the same time, and voiced that there would be consequences should they do so. Click here to learn more.

One of Congress’ chief duties outlined in the U.S. Constitution is to provide for the common defense. The NDAA ensures our military is best-equipped to defend our nation against America’s foreign adversaries. A summary of the FY 2020 NDAA can be viewed here.