“How do you reward a nation that does all of these issues?” Senate Overseas Relations Committee Chair Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) mentioned in an interview. “I don’t see it. Now, in the event that they need to begin altering their methods, that’s a distinct story.”
Menendez is certainly one of 4 lawmakers whose approval is required for overseas army gross sales. He has lengthy opposed the sale, and doubled down this week even after Biden mentioned on the NATO summit final month that he needed to promote the jets to Turkey.
Biden’s remarks got here after Turkey dropped its opposition to Finland and Sweden becoming a member of NATO, however the White Home has mentioned there was no connection between Turkey’s transfer and Biden’s remarks.
Lawmakers say that Turkey ought to have by no means thrown up roadblocks to the 2 NATO aspirants within the first place. On prime of that, Turkey is dealing with U.S. sanctions for its earlier purchases of Russian-made missile protection techniques, and its pilots have violated Greece’s airspace lots of of instances in latest weeks. Menendez additionally cited the “rise of authoritarianism” underneath President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
What’s extra, the Home is voting this week on an modification to the annual protection coverage laws that will tie Biden’s arms by barring the sale except he can certify that it’s essential to U.S. nationwide safety and that the jets received’t be used to violate Greece’s airspace.
It’s unclear whether or not the Biden administration will attempt to persuade Menendez to again the F-16 sale. When requested whether or not he might be satisfied to drop his opposition, Menendez responded: “Not very a lot.” His GOP counterpart on the Overseas Relations Committee, Sen. Jim Risch of Idaho, is undecided.
Democratic members of the Hellenic Caucus launched a blistering assertion final week in response to Biden’s declaration of help for the sale, saying the administration hasn’t allayed their issues about Turkey’s “antagonistic actions” towards Greece in addition to its potential re-invasion of Syria to focus on U.S.-allied Kurds.
“Till the administration can present appropriate solutions on how they meant to mitigate the above-listed issues, we’ll proceed to object to this weapons switch and do all the pieces we will to make sure that these F-16s should not delivered to the Turkish authorities,” the lawmakers concluded.
Not all Democrats are against the sale.
Home Armed Companies Committee Chair Adam Smith (D-Wash.) mentioned that whereas he believes Menendez’s issues are “respectable,” promoting F-16s would assist restore the U.S.-Turkey relationship.
“Turkey has carried out quite a lot of issues which have made the connection tough. However it’s not a relationship we will afford to flush,” Smith mentioned in an interview. “So we have to attempt to discover a approach to rebuild it. F-16s appear to be an affordable approach to do it.”
Whereas congressional opposition makes it exceedingly tough for Biden to promote the superior fighter jets to Turkey, he has a break-glass possibility. He might declare a state of emergency to avoid Congress — a step taken by President Donald Trump when lawmakers wouldn’t approve his bid to promote weapons to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Connor O’Brien contributed to this report.