Leading Republican lawmakers are spearheading a new legislative push that would stop the Obama administration from blocking state-level efforts to impose new sanctions on Iran, according to a copy of new legislation obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.
The push, which is led by more than 20 House Republicans, comes in response to Obama administration efforts to prevent state governments from wading into the Iran debate.
Since the nuclear agreement was implemented, many state officials have expressed interest in leveling new economic sanctions against Iran in a bid to stop local governments and business from re-engaging in business with the Islamic Republic.
At least half of all U.S. states have laws or policies on the books that sanction Iran. Governors from 15 states co-signed a letter in September expressing their intent to use state-level sanctions to target Iran.
The Obama administration has expressed outrage about the effort, warning that it could interfere with and even violate the nuclear agreement. A portion of the agreement includes language that threatens to block U.S. states from moving forward with new sanctions.
In a bid to protect these state rights, Rep. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.) and a delegation of other House lawmakers, have filed legislation to protect governments from legal attacks brought as a result of their Iran sanctions efforts, according to information provided to the Free Beacon.
"States such as Florida that have imposed sanctions against Iran play a vital role in protecting the security of the American people," DeSantis said in a statement. "The Obama administration's disastrous nuclear deal with Iran was neither ratified as a treaty nor adopted as statutory law, and therefore cannot preempt valid state laws. The State Sanctions against Iranian Terrorism Act will preserve, protect, and enhance the authority of individual states to pass laws ensuring that their dollars do not flow to the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism."
The legislation would give states a greater ability to issue their own sanctions on Iran and limit the business community’s interactions with Iran. This includes commerce with Iranian businesses, including those owned by the country’s government, as well as entities controlled by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.
The issue of sanctions has remained in the forefront of the debate as the Obama administration works to unfreeze Iranian assets and return more than $100 billion to Iran.
The State Department has admitted that at least a portion of this money could be used by Iran to fund terrorism.
Senate leaders also have expressed support for protecting local governments' ability to continue sanctioning Iran.
Sen. Mark Kirk (R., Ill.) pushed a similar measure in December to the law being considered by the House.
It maintained that the nuclear agreement would not legally impact the authority of states and local governments to level sanctions on Iran for its continued support of terrorism and human rights abuses.
"States have explicit authority granted by Congress and the executive branch through the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010 to enact sanctions against Iran or entities that do business with Iran and cannot have such actions be pre-empted by Federal law or regulation," the measure said.