H.R.1677 – Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2017

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Week ending May 19, 2017

H.R.1677 – Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2017

Brief

CBO explains; “H.R. 1677 would require the Departments of State and the Treasury to impose sanctions on people and entities responsible for the security and humanitarian crisis in Syria or persons who engage in certain transactions with the government of Syria; that requirement would expire on December 31, 2021. The bill also would authorize the Department of State to assist entities that are investigating war crimes or crimes against humanity in Syria. Finally, the legislation would require briefings and reports to the Congress on the implementation of the act, ongoing assistance programs for the Syrian people, and the feasibility of various options to protect civilians in Syria.”

 The bill would establish that it is the policy of the United States that all diplomatic and coercive economic means should be utilized to compel the government of Bashar al-Assad to immediately halt the wholesale slaughter of the Syrian people and to support an immediate transition to a democratic government in Syria that respects the rule of law, human rights, and peaceful co-existence with its neighbors.

From the bill report –

    The goal of this legislation is to create leverage for the U.S. in future negotiations. The committee believes that the sanctions called for in this bill could help compel the parties to engage in meaningful negotiations, while the suspension of sanctions can be held out as a mechanism to reward positive movement towards resolving the crisis.

    This legislation seeks to disrupt the supply of goods and  materials used by the Assad war machine to target civilians. It imposes sanctions on those who (1) provide significant financial, material, or technological support to Syria, including the Syrian intelligence services, security services, and armed forces; (2) support Syria’s domestic petroleum industry–through which the regime cooperates with ISIS; (3) sell or provide aircraft, spare parts, or related goods, services, or technologies which are used in whole or in part for military operations; or (4) facilitate financing or funding for any of these activities.

    By targeting these key sectors, this legislation seeks to raise the risk of doing business with the Assad war machine and to cut off financial benefits to those who profit off the death and suffering of the Syrian people. The majority of those engaged in such activities are either war profiteers, members of the Assad regime or its cronies, or acting at the behest of one of Assad’s state backers–such as Iran.

    The bill would authorize the imposition of certain sanctions by the President and amend current law to require the President to impose other sanctions on individuals he designates as eligible. The bill would require the President to submit an updated report on individuals alleged to be responsible for “serious human rights abuses” in Syria, which the bill would amend current law to define. The bill includes a national security waiver and negotiation or transition scenario-specific waiver authorities for the President. Its provisions would expire after five years.

    The first objective of this legislation is to decrease the violence against civilians by raising the cost of doing business with foreign entities engaged in aiding the Government of Syria. External support to the Assad regime has fueled this conflict and served as a lifeline for the Assad regime. Thus, this legislation imposes third-party sanctions on persons that are supporting the Government of Syria’s military supply chain–from banking and fuel to defense articles, services and information–in order to make it costlier to acquire military resources.

    Second, this legislation is a means by which to target malignant efforts to create a terrorist safe haven in Syria through which armed groups, such as Lebanese Hezbollah, are able to move arms, money, and fighters to launch attacks against and destabilize U.S. allies in the region. The committee remains concerned about the increasing strength of Lebanese Hezbollah and the dangerous implications for the region when battle-hardened Hezbollah fighters return to Southern Lebanon.

    This legislation does not violate the United States’ commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and does not interfere with the U.S.’s ability to adhere to that agreement. Indeed, the previous Administration repeatedly asserted that the Iran agreement would not impact the ability of the United States to counter Iran’s destabilizing activities. This legislation includes flexibility for the President to ensure that sanctions against individuals or entities that provide support for the Syrian regime are in the national security interest of the United States.

 (Full text of H.R. 1677 at congress.gov)

Sponsor:

Rep. Engel, Eliot L. [D-NY-16] (Introduced 03/22/2017)

 

Status: Passed House /

VOTES and FLOOR ACTION

HOUSE

On Passage: On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by voice vote

House Amendments:

Motion to recommit:

Text of the motion:

SENATE

On Passage:

Procedural Actions:

Senate Amendments:

COST AND IMPACT

Cost to the taxpayers:  Data not available

Pay-as-you-go requirements:  Data not available

Regulatory and Other Impact: Data not available

Dynamic Scoring:   Data not available

Tax Complexity:  Not applicable to this bill.

Earmark Certification:  Data not available

Duplication of programs: Data not available

Direct Rule-Making:  Data not available

Advisory Committee Statement: Data not available

Budget Authority: Data not available

Constitutional Authority:   Assumed.

 

More Bill Information:

 

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