The U.S. House voted Thursday to block the sale of F-16 jets to Turkey over its S-400 purchase, while India is likely to get a sanctions waiver.
The vote was 244-179 on an amendment offered by New Hampshire Democrat Chris Pappas to the National Defense Authorization Act. The majority of Democrats, 184, backed the effort, along with 60 Republicans, Politico reported. Senate Foreign Relations Chair Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), one of the four top lawmakers who must sign off on weapons sales to foreign nations, is refusing to back the transfer.
This could further sour relations with Ankara, which irked the U.S. by purchasing S-400 air defense systems from Russia. Turkey was kicked out of the multibillion-dollar program to buy – and help build – F-35 Lightning II combat jets. Washington argued S-400s might be used by the Russians to gather intelligence on the stealth jet. In September last year, Turkey sent a formal request to acquire 40 new F-16 Block 70 jets and 80 modernization kits for $6 billion.
Lawmakers have now backed a provision to the annual defense authorization bill that would halt the F-16 sale to Turkey unless President Joe Biden certifies that providing the fighters is in the U.S. national interest and that Turkey won’t use the jets for unauthorized territorial overflights of Greece.
This decision to sell F-16s will affect whether Sweden and Finland will be joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Without the support of all members, including Turkey, the two Nordic countries cannot join the military alliance.
Meanwhile, the House passed an amendment that approves waiver to India against punitive Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) sanctions for buying S-400 systems for $5 billion. Authored and introduced by Indian-American Congressman Ro Khanna, the amendment urges the Biden administration to use its authority to provide the sanctions waiver to help deter aggressors like China.