Top Dem opposes Biden’s plan to sell fighter jets to Turkey

Politico reports that President Joe Biden’s plan to sell fighter jets to Turkey is facing major opposition from a top Democrat: U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), the chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee. 

Per the outlet:

The chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is vowing to continue blocking the transfer of warplanes to Turkey unless Ankara improves its human rights record and ceases threatening U.S. regional allies.

What’s going on?

On Friday, the Wall Street Journal reported Biden’s plan. 

The Journal wrote:

The Biden administration is preparing to seek congressional approval for a $20 billion sale of new F-16 jet fighters to Turkey along with a separate sale of next-generation F-35 warplanes to Greece, in what would be among the largest foreign weapons sales in recent years, according to U.S. officials.

Turkey has not been a part of the U.S.’s F-35 program since 2019. Turkey was ousted from the program after it purchased a missile defense system from Russia.

The Journal goes on to explain what the Biden administration is looking to accomplish with this plan, and the big goal appears to be getting Turkey to approve Finland and Sweden’s accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

The Journal explained:

Administration officials intend the prospect of the sale to prod Turkey to sign off on Finland and Sweden’s accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which Ankara has blocked over objections to their ties to Kurdish separatist groups.

The opposition

On Friday, Menendez made it clear that he is not in favor of Biden’s plan.

“As I have repeatedly made clear, I strongly oppose the Biden administration’s proposed sale of new F-16 aircraft to Turkey,” Menendez told CNN.

Menendez went on to explain his position, saying, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan “continues to undermine international law, disregard human rights and democratic norms, and engage in alarming and destabilizing behavior in Turkey and against neighboring NATO allies.”

Accordingly, Menendez said that he will not change his position until he sees improvements from Erdogan.

“Until Erdogan ceases his threats, improves his human rights record at home – including by releasing journalists and political opposition – and begins to act like a trusted ally should, I will not approve this sale,” Menendez said.

What now?

Next up, President Biden is expected to send a request to Congress to approve the plan. It is unclear when Biden will send the request, and it is also unclear whether or not Congress will approve it.

Once Biden does submit the request, Congress will have a month to act.