CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Tuesday, November 15, 2016, the House will consider H.R. 5732, the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2016, under suspension of the rules. H.R. 5732 was introduced on July 12, 2016, by Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) and was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, in addition to the Committee on Financial Services and the Committee on the Judiciary. The Committee on Foreign Affairs ordered the bill reported, as amended, by voice vote on July 14, 2016.
H.R. 5732 requires the Departments of State and the Treasury to impose sanctions on people and entities responsible for the security and humanitarian crisis in Syria. The bill also authorizes the Department of State to assist entities that are investigating war crimes or crimes against humanity in Syria, and requires reports to Congress on the implementation of the Act, ongoing assistance programs for the Syrian people, and the feasibility of establishing a no-fly zone over Syria. Sanctions authority would expire on December 31, 2021, and sanctions can be suspended if the parties are engaged in meaningful negotiations and the violence against civilians has ceased.
“Caesar” is a former Syrian military photographer who testified in front of the House Foreign Affairs Committee in 2014 about the Assad regime’s torture of Syrian civilians.
During the Syrian conflict, the vast majority of civilians who have died have been killed by the Government of Syria and its allies. President Bashar al-Assad’s government has engaged in widespread torture and rape, employed starvation as a weapon of war, massacred civilians, and conductive massive and widespread enforced disappearances. The United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic previously described these actions as war crimes and crimes against humanity.
According to the bill’s sponsor, “When Caesar appeared before our committee, we saw the brutal, unvarnished images of Assad’s abuses against the Syrian people, and we know that type of violence continues unabated. American leadership is desperately needed to help bring this conflict to an end. Our legislation would crack down on anyone who is still doing business with the Assad regime, while leaving room for meaningful negotiations to move forward. It would also help ensure that down the road, anyone responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity is held accountable.”
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that implementing H.R. 5732 would cost $3 million over the 2017-2021 period, subject to the availability of appropriated funds. Since H.R 5732 would increase the number of people denied visas and assessed penalties, and some visas and penalties are deposited into the Treasury as revenue and can be spent without further appropriation, pay-as-you-go procedures apply.
For questions or further information please contact Jake Vreeburg with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 6-1828.