(Bloomberg) -- Republican Senator Lindsey Graham is proposing a prohibition on anyone in the U.S. from buying Turkey’s sovereign debt, according to the framework of the sanctions bill, as lawmakers aim to escalate pressure on the Turkish government over its actions in Syria.
The prohibition is part of a menu of sanctions in a bipartisan measure Graham introduced Thursday with Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen. The bill would also target the top levels of the Turkish government, including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his cabinet, the country’s energy sector and military sales.
Speaking with reporters Thursday, Van Hollen said it is “within Turkey’s power” to avoid these sanctions by drawing back from its invasion of Syrian territory that had been controlled by the Kurds allied with the U.S. in the fight against the Islamic State.
“We do not want these sanctions to have to go into effect,” Van Hollen said. However, he added that Congress will insist on punishing Turkey if it doesn’t change course.
The sanctions would be effective immediately upon enactment unless the Trump administration comes to Congress every 90 days to certify that Turkey is not operating unilaterally in Syria and has withdrawn its armed forces, including Turkish supported rebels, from areas it captured beginning on Oct. 9.
The same version of the bill would have to pass the House and the Senate before going to President Donald Trump to be signed into law. There is strong bipartisan opposition to Turkey’s incursion into northern Syria, but Senate leaders haven’t committed to bringing the bill to a vote.
Graham said he thinks there is enough support for the legislation to win a veto-proof majority in the Senate.
The lira erased gains on the news and was trading 0.6% lower at 5.9235 per dollar at 8:02 p.m. in Istanbul.
The U.S. Treasury Department has been reluctant to sanction the sovereign debt of other countries, an option that was floated in 2014 to punish Russia, citing concerns that the impact would spill over into the global financial markets. Congress has proposed, but not passed, measures to sanction Russian sovereign debt.
(Updates with more bill details beginning in the second paragraph.)
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