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house Bill H.R. 1706

Prohibiting U.S. Aid From Rebuilding Parts of Syria Controlled by Assad

Argument in favor

Until Assad respects the human rights of the Syrian people, no U.S. assistance should go to rebuilding areas of the country controlled by his regime.

jimK's Opinion
···
10/13/2019
Why would we want to help fund a foreign adversary supported, mass-murdering and genocidal leader rebuild infrastructure in regions that he still controls? It only frees up resources to be used for re-taking regions he has lost. My first reaction to this question was to say no due to humanitarian concerns. The legislation spells out meaningful exceptions that allow humanitarian support. I still wish that we could do these kind of common-sense things without legislation; like the good of’ days- when a note from a Congressional subcommittee or oversight board would most often be sufficient. Congress could spend more time dealing with legislative issues at a broader, higher-level and more strategic basis. ... ... ... Maybe we should ban congressional use of word processors and make them go back to carbon-copy typewritten legislation; the kind that has to be carefully and concisely worded, well deliberated and carefully thought through for long term consequences.
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Dennison 's Opinion
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10/13/2019
Do not support dictators! America cannot support those who abuse human rights abroad or at home!
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Paul's Opinion
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10/13/2019
We should only rebuild and sablilze area controlled by the Kurds at this time. Having a strong ally in the region should be a goal. The Kurd have been loyal and effective in the fight against ISIS. Assad only wants to wipe out the enemies of his regained. Some of these rebels hate the Kurds and Christians. We cannot help Assad by our actions. We should introduce and back the Kurds, when negotiating with other Arab nations, and our other allies. You would think that the world knows that, we don’t support, murders, and despots
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Argument opposed

The U.S. shouldn’t restrict its reconstruction assistance from going to parts of Syria controlled by the Assad regime, as that’s a significant portion of Syria.

B.R.'s Opinion
···
10/13/2019
As long as the Assad regime is in control, the demands of this bill are not going to happen. Besides, they can get reconstruction assistance from Russia, Iran, and probably China without making any human right changes.
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Ronald's Opinion
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10/13/2019
No action on anything, until Congress has healed itself from their impeachment mdness.
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Robert j.'s Opinion
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10/13/2019
Lost cause. After Mr Trump’s error most of Syria will be abandoned.
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What is House Bill H.R. 1706?

This bill — the No Assistance for Assad Act — would prohibit U.S. assistance for reconstruction and stabilization efforts in Syria from being available in areas controlled by the Assad regime if the regime meets several conditions related to human rights (a list of which can be found below). The limitation wouldn’t apply to projects administered by the local community or humanitarian assistance.

Specifically, the president would have to certify the regime has done the following before providing assistance:

  • Ceased indiscriminate use of weapons and any attacks against civilians and civilian facilities;
  • Released all political prisoners and provide full access to Syrian prisons for investigations by appropriate international human rights organizations;
  • Removed senior Syrian government officials who are complicit in human rights abuses along with human rights abusers from positions of authority in the military, intelligence, and security services;
  • Moved to organize free and fair elections for a new government to establish an independent judiciary;
  • Respected and complied with internationally recognized human rights;
  • Fulfilled its commitments under the chemical weapons convention;
  • Halted the development and deployment of ballistic and cruise missiles;
  • Minimized the Syrian government’s reliance on Iran and Iranian proxy forces to act on behalf or in support of Syria; and
  • Commenced a process to organize the safe, unfettered and voluntary return of Syrian refugees and internally displaced persons to their homes.

The president would be required to submit annual reports to Congress detailing any projects that utilize the exceptions and laying out a strategy for getting humanitarian assistance to besieged areas.

Impact

Parts of Syria controlled, or not, by the Assad regime; and the U.S. government.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 1706

The CBO estimates that enacting this bill wouldn’t alter the amount or type of foreign assistance provided by the U.S. to the region.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) introduced this bill to prohibit U.S. assistance from going to parts of Syria controlled by the Assad regime:

“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. 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.”

In floor remarks last Congress, Rep. Engel said: 

"[E]very time we think that the crisis in Syria could not get any worse, the Assad regime manages to plunge the country into even deeper depths. Children living in besieged Madaya could not get food, so they resort to eating leaves.  A seven-year-old and her mother tweeted goodbye messages from Aleppo under siege... [T]he regime has continued using chemical weapons, which the world swore we would never use again.  But no matter how Assad’s victims have met their ends—from nerve gas or barrel bombs or at the hands of Assad’s Russian or Iranian patrons—the loss of innocent life is staggering. My heart really bleeds for the people of Syria. What they have had to endure should be endured by anyone. And the United States needs to be vocal and we need to take action.As we continue to find some way to end the bloodshed, we also need to start thinking about what will come down the road. This bill says that American assistance for reconstruction in Syria should be available in areas controlled by Assad only if the regime stops indiscriminate use of weapons, ends attacks on civilians and civilian facilities, releases political prisoners, allows human-rights organizations access to the prisons, and removes senior officials complicit in human-rights abusesIf Bashar al-Assad, the Butcher of Syria, wants to destroy his own country and then expects the United States to pick up the pieces, he is sorely mistaken.  That simply won’t happen.  He and Russia and Iran broke Syria, and now they have to buy it.  We were careful in crafting this legislation to ensure that these limitations won’t affect locally administered projects. And the bill permits humanitarian assistance to all in need. Recovery in Syria will be a slow and painful process. But we cannot allow those responsible for hundreds of thousands of murders to control American dollars meant to help the country rebuild... [T]his legislation sends a message—particularly after the Assad regime used chemical weapons—that we are closely watching the developments in Syria and that the United States will not assist those who are party to such heinous war crimes."

Original cosponsor Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) added:

“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.”

James Dobbins, a former US ambassador to the European Union under President George H.W. Bush, says the West — including the U.S. — may have to accept some conditions for engaging in reconstruction activities in Syria:

"At its base, the issue is: Do we want to stabilize Syria. If that’s the objective, then being willing under some conditions to engage in — or at least allow our partners to engage in — reconstruction activities across the country is an important piece of leverage. In fact, it’s virtually our only piece of leverage.”

Dobbins warns that boycotting reconstruction in Syria, as this bill would have the U.S. do for the time being, would only strengthen U.S. enemies, such as Iran and Russia, who, along with China, are the main countries currently contemplating investments in Assad regime areas. This, he says, would be dangerous: 

"I think what you’d see in the case in Russia is a sort of crony capitalism in which individuals connected to the Russian regime would have privileged positions and further prey on Syria. In the case of Iran it would probably be institutions connected to the [Islamic Revolutionary] Guard.” 

In March 2019, the Trump administration proposed zeroing out all new U.S. funding for Syria stabilization, while pressing U.S. allies to step up their military and financial commitments to the ongoing crisis. Members of Congress, including some sponsors of this bill, from both parties called this a mistake. Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-PA) said

"It is a dangerous decision [to zero out U.S. stabilization funds for Syria]. It ends up essentially signaling a green light to this mass murderer that he and his awful allies, like the Iranian regime, will be able to just do carte blanche whatever they want."

This bill has 21 bipartisan cosponsors, including 12 Republicans and nine Democrats, in the current Congress. 

Last Congress, this bill passed the House by a voice vote with the support of 25 bipartisan cosponsors, including 17 Republicans and eight Democrats.


Of Note: Since its civil war began in 2011, the destruction in Syria has been immense. Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed, nearly half the prewar population has been displaced, and the country's economy has collapsed. In 2018, the World Bank estimated that about 60 percent of Syrians in Syria lived in "extreme poverty," compared with only 12.3 percent in 2007.

Media:

Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: Beshr Abdulhadi via Flickr / Creative Commons)

AKA

No Assistance for Assad Act

Official Title

To limit assistance for areas of Syria controlled by the Government of Syria or associated forces, and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Foreign Affairs
    IntroducedMarch 13th, 2019
    Why would we want to help fund a foreign adversary supported, mass-murdering and genocidal leader rebuild infrastructure in regions that he still controls? It only frees up resources to be used for re-taking regions he has lost. My first reaction to this question was to say no due to humanitarian concerns. The legislation spells out meaningful exceptions that allow humanitarian support. I still wish that we could do these kind of common-sense things without legislation; like the good of’ days- when a note from a Congressional subcommittee or oversight board would most often be sufficient. Congress could spend more time dealing with legislative issues at a broader, higher-level and more strategic basis. ... ... ... Maybe we should ban congressional use of word processors and make them go back to carbon-copy typewritten legislation; the kind that has to be carefully and concisely worded, well deliberated and carefully thought through for long term consequences.
    Like (82)
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    As long as the Assad regime is in control, the demands of this bill are not going to happen. Besides, they can get reconstruction assistance from Russia, Iran, and probably China without making any human right changes.
    Like (14)
    Follow
    Share
    Do not support dictators! America cannot support those who abuse human rights abroad or at home!
    Like (26)
    Follow
    Share
    We should only rebuild and sablilze area controlled by the Kurds at this time. Having a strong ally in the region should be a goal. The Kurd have been loyal and effective in the fight against ISIS. Assad only wants to wipe out the enemies of his regained. Some of these rebels hate the Kurds and Christians. We cannot help Assad by our actions. We should introduce and back the Kurds, when negotiating with other Arab nations, and our other allies. You would think that the world knows that, we don’t support, murders, and despots
    Like (19)
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    America must restore its standing as a beacon for human rights.
    Like (15)
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    Sadly this is probably necessary. Please congress-don’t help Assad. It’s likely necessary to pass this bill because trump will help Assad and Putin and Erdogan. Ruthless cruel murdering dictator thugs stick together. That’s the company trump keeps. Mobsters and thugs.
    Like (15)
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    Why is this even a proposal? Assad is a dictator, who terrorizes his people. He destroyed he nation and killed many of his people. Even now will not come to the aid of the Syrian Kurds who are being attacked by by Turkey
    Like (9)
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    Aid will never get to the people who need it, it will go to to warlords, or whoever the leadership is controling the area at this moment.
    Like (9)
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    Well said Beth. Putin and Assad now control northern Syria and are coming to the aid of the Kurds. Putin bought Trump, the GOP, and the election in 2016. CHECKMATE PUTIN!
    Like (8)
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    Assad needs to respect the human rights of the Syrian population. This is one way to make him do that.
    Like (7)
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    Why is this even being considered? We should never prop up dictators, especially those who commit genocide!
    Like (7)
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    No aid to a murdering leader. Trump is now just like him. He left our friends the Kurds to be murdered. Same thing!!!
    Like (6)
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    No action on anything, until Congress has healed itself from their impeachment mdness.
    Like (6)
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    NO, for the same reason that we should condemn the American abandonment of the Kurds. We do not support Dictators. Politically or financially
    Like (5)
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    I like what Hindsight2020 said. Dear Mr. Hindsight. I copied what you wrote. I hope you don’t mind. It is full of goodies about Trump. Doozeys i’d say. But Trump is evil, and when someone shares this truth, it should be a loud blasting, so the world can hear. My answer is YES OF COURSE TRUMP NEEDS TO BE WATCHED LIKE A HAWK, AND HIS EVIL DEEDS PRONOUNCED FROM THE ROOFTOPS!
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    Lets rebuild America instead!
    Like (5)
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    No money to Assad! He’s a murderer
    Like (5)
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    Yes. I don’t support using our tax dollars to help Assad.
    Like (5)
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    We should not do anything that helps this murderer.
    Like (4)
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    Yes, please do prevent our taxes from being used to enrich a murderous, genocidal regime that has committed innumerable atrocities!
    Like (4)
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