Gus Bilirakis Helps Amend the NDAA to Stop the Sale of F-16s to Turkey

While he voted against the final bill, U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., helped ensure the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed by the U.S. House last week included a provision to stop the U.S. from selling F-16s to Turkey.

Earlier this year, Reuters reported that the administration wants to sell 40 F-16s to Turkey.

Reuters reported that Naz Durakoglu, who has been nominated to serve as assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs, sent a letter in March, praising Turkey’s support for Ukraine during the current Russian invasion.

“The administration believes that there are nonetheless compelling long-term NATO alliance unity and capability interests, as well as U.S. national security, economic and commercial interests that are supported by appropriate U.S. defense trade ties with Turkey,” she wrote

“The proposed sale will require a congressional notification if the Department of State were to approve it,” she wrote.

The Hellenic Caucus led by Bilirakis, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-NY, and U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas, D-NH, has continued to oppose the idea even as the administration is pushing for selling modernization kits for the planes. The caucus successfully amended the NDAA to prohibit “selling F-16s to Turkey and put in place needed congressional oversight to ensure that Turkey does not use F-16s to violate Greece‘s sovereignty”

“Turkey has consistently demonstrated a complete disregard for following international law,” said Bilirakis. “Erdogan repeatedly acts contrary to American interests, with his dangerous behavior contributing to the instability of the region. By passing this amendment, we are sending a strong message that this behavior will no longer be ignored or tolerated. Additionally, we are solidifying our steadfast support of Greece, which has consistently proven itself to be a reliable and unwavering ally.”

“The passage of this bipartisan amendment sends a strong message to Turkey and to the international community that the United States will not allow the Erdogan government to escape accountability for violating U.S. law and the standards of the NATO alliance,” said Pappas. “I have consistently opposed the sale of F-16s to Turkey and advanced weapons and equipment to upgrade its existing F-16 fleet. It remains deeply troubling that President Biden supports moving forward with this sale despite Turkey’s increasingly belligerent rhetoric and aggression towards Greece, a reliable democratic NATO ally. Actions speak louder than words. I will continue working across the aisle to take all necessary actions to prevent F-16s or any other American-made weapons from falling into Erdogan’s hands. I’m pleased that this amendment garnered strong, bipartisan support, and I want to thank my co-leads and fellow members of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues for moving this forward.”

“As co-chair of the Hellenic Caucus, I am pleased that our amendment to block this unnecessary and dangerous sale passed the House. Turkey uses their air fleet to violate the sovereignty of a reliable NATO member and ally, Greece and still possesses Russian S-400 anti-air systems, which led to their ejection from the F-35 program and the imposition of CAATSA sanctions,” said Maloney. “Selling Turkey more F-16s or providing them with the technology to modernize their current fleet would not be in the interest of the United States or our allies. I am proud to have worked with Representative Pappas, Bilirakis and all my colleagues on this essential amendment to block these sales to Turkey. We must continue to hold Erdogan accountable for violations of U.S. law, human rights, and the security of our ally Greece – not reward him.”

Back in November, Bilirakis, Maloney and Pappas led almost 40 other members of the U.S. House in sending a letter to U.S. Sec. of State Antony Blinken on the matter. U.S. Reps. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., Ted Deutch, D-Fla., and Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., signed the letter.

Focus on the NDAA now turns to the U.S. Senate, which is expected to pass its version of it in the coming months.

Kevin Derby
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