Syria Legislation Advances in Senate

Press Release

By:  Bob Casey, Jr.
Date: May 21, 2013
Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), Chair of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs, made the following statement on today's mark-up on Syria legislation. Senator Casey introduced seven amendments, which were accepted in the bill.

"Mounting evidence of chemical weapons only adds to the importance of that the United States stand with the people of Syria during this critical period, said Senator Casey. The fall of Assad is not only good for Syria, but is in the strategic interests of the nation. New leadership in Syria will deal a significant blow to Iran and Hezbollah which is why I introduced legislation on Syria in March with Senator Rubio. This committee and the Senate overall is long overdue in taking a strong stance in support of the people of Syria, and I am hopeful that the Senate will act. "

Below are descriptions of each of Senator Casey's amendments:

Casey 1: Would require the administration to impose sanctions on entities that provide surface-to-surface or surface-to-air missiles, like the SA20s or S300s, to the Assad regime. This amendment was combined with a Rubio amendment which would impose sanctions on any arms sale to the Assad regime.

Casey 2: Would authorize the Syria Transition Fund monies to support the establishment of an inclusive and transparent electoral system and to develop the capacity of democratically-oriented political parties.

Casey 3: Would require the Administration to report on efforts to leverage financial assistance from the international donor community, including the Gulf States.

Casey 4: Would support programs that protect Syria's intellectual capital -- its scholars and students.

Casey 5: Would require that U.S. assistance to the Syrian people be identified as "From the American People," as long as such branding does not jeopardize the safety of providers or beneficiaries or the effectiveness of the program.

Casey 6: Would authorize the Administration to vote, at the UN or its agencies or other international organizations, in favor of additional humanitarian assistance to the people of Syria; and would authorize bilateral assistance to countries hosting Syrian refugees (Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, and Egypt).

Casey 7: Would state that it is the sense of the U.S. Senate to: condemn the Assad regime's perpetration of violence and human rights violations; support the civilian victims of the conflict; affirm medical neutrality; support the democratically-oriented political opposition; welcome other countries' pledges of humanitarian assistance; and implement existing sanctions against Syria, including EO 13606, which sanctions any individual or entity that assists or enables the commission of serious human rights abuses, through computer or network disruption, tracking, or monitoring, by the Governments of Syria and Iran.

Senator Casey consistently called for a more assertive approach in Syria which included the use of force against Syrian military airplanes on the ground. [Foreign Policy 2/27/13]

In March, Senators Casey and Rubio offered legislation which could also offer a path forward. Several Senators cosponsored the measure including Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) Chris Coons (D-DE), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Jean Shaheen (D-NH), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Carl Levin (D-MI) and Bill Nelson (D-FL).