Senate lawmakers on Oct. 17 introduced legislation that would prevent the transfer of $6 billion in Iranian assets that were recently unblocked by the Biden administration as part of a prisoner exchange deal.
The measure, known as the “Revoke Iranian Funding Act,” was introduced by Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, along with more than 20 Republican and Independent lawmakers.
The legislation—which would rescind the Treasury and State General Licenses that enabled the release of the billions of dollars to Iran and prevent the regime from accessing and using the funds—is a direct response to President Joe Biden’s decision to unfreeze the funds last month in exchange for the return of multiple hostages being held by Iran.
Those assets are currently still being held in a bank account controlled by the government of Qatar as the transfer process plays out.
However, lawmakers have raised concerns over the transfer of funds amid allegations that Iran aided the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas in planning its surprise attack on the south of Israel on Oct. 7.
The attack claimed the lives of 1,300 people.
While neither the Biden administration nor the Israeli government has found specific evidence that Iran supported the violent attack earlier this month, Mr. Scott’s newly introduced bill notes that Iran is the “leading state sponsor of terrorism in the world” and that its government has “explicitly acknowledged their willingness to use any and all monetary gains to support the ideology of their regime.”
Funds Could Be Used for ‘Future Terrorist Attacks’
Iran is known to be a financial backer of Palestinian terror groups including Hamas, but officials have denied any involvement in the terrorist group’s attack on Israel.
“Hamas has repeatedly carried out acts of terror against Israel, citizens of the United States, and innocent civilians, including the October 2023 assault against Israel that resulted in the brutal murder of innocent men, women, and children,” Mr. Scott’s legislation notes. “Given the fungible nature of money, funds released to Iran for so-called humanitarian purposes cannot be reliably prevented from funding future terrorist attacks.
“In the face of this reality, the United States Government should consider every available tool to immediately restrict access by Iran to any and all funds that are used to finance international terrorism,” the bill added.
In a statement introducing the legislation, Mr. Scott called President Biden’s decision to release $6 billion to Iran “a grave mistake that created a market for American hostages, emboldened our adversaries, and put a credit on the balance sheets of one of Hamas’s biggest backers.”
“In the wake of Hamas’s horrific attacks on Israel, it has only become clearer that this rogue regime cannot be trusted as long they continue to support terrorist organizations. My bill is a comprehensive approach to wielding our economic sanctions tools against Iran by freezing the $6 billion and ensuring Congress has the information necessary to prevent Iran from accessing funds in the future,” the lawmaker continued.
“We must be unequivocal that the United States will not back down and waive sanctions on frozen Iranian funds held by other nations,” Mr. Scott concluded.
Iran Vows to Have Final Say
Sens. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Mike Braun (I-Ind.), and JD Vance (R-Ohio) were among those to back the measure.
Mr. Scott’s legislation comes just days after he called for a Senate investigation into the release of the $6 billion to Iran, which the Biden administration said can only be used for limited humanitarian purposes.
Mr. Scott urged the Senate to also investigate what led President Biden to allow the transfer to Iran and “how it could expect Iran to not use that money to continue to fuel terrorism.”
In an interview with NBC News in September, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said the regime will have the ultimate say in how the funds are spent despite the State Department stressing that each transaction would be monitored by the U.S. Treasury.
“This money belongs to the Iranian people, the Iranian government, so the Islamic Republic of Iran will decide what to do with this money,” the Iranian leader said.
“Humanitarian means whatever the Iranian people needs, so this money will be budgeted for those needs, and the needs of the Iranian people will be decided and determined by the Iranian government,” Mr. Raisi added.
From The Epoch Times