Congressional Democrats killed a handful of measures that would have stopped the Biden administration from providing U.S. taxpayer funds to the hardline Iranian regime and increased economic sanctions on the country.
Democrats running the House Rules Committee last week shot down seven Republican-led measures targeting Iran. Republican foreign policy leaders were pushing for the measures to be included in the recently passed National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the sprawling annual funding bill for national security priorities.
Congressional sources who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon said House Democrats rejected the measures to help the Biden administration in its push to secure a revamped version of the 2015 nuclear accord. Those negotiations are ongoing, and the White House is pushing its allies in Congress to avoid passing any measures that may upset the hardline regime and erode progress in talks.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) "opposed the original JCPOA, and I hoped congressional Democrats might come to their senses and oppose Biden's disastrous Iran reboot," Rep. Jim Banks (R., Ind.) told the Free Beacon, referring to the nuclear deal by its official acronym.
Banks said he expected at least some Democrats who have been critical of the Iran nuclear deal to back measures that would stop the Biden administration from awarding Tehran with taxpayer funds.
"But Democrats' foreign policy is even weaker now than it was during the Obama years," Banks said. "House Democrats voted to pave the way towards a JCPOA 2.0 that will enrich terrorists and bring Iran even closer to obtaining a nuclear weapon. It's not just Joe Biden—the whole party is to blame."
Banks and his Republican colleagues attempted to pass what they described as a common-sense measure to block the Pentagon from sending any taxpayer dollars to the Iranian regime. The measure would have stopped any funds allocated in the fiscal year 2023 NDAA from going to "the government of Iran," "any person owned or controlled by the government of Iran," and "any person identified on the list of specially designated nationals," according to a copy of the rejected amendment.
Another measure the Republicans expected to receive Democratic support would have terminated the president's authority to waive sanctions on Russians who work on Iran's contested nuclear program. Even with a bipartisan opposition to Russia's unprovoked war in Ukraine, Democrats rejected this provision.
Other measures would have sanctioned the Iranian supreme leader's office for human rights abuses and required the Biden administration to submit a report to Congress on Iranians who could be targeted with additional sanctions.
Democrats also rejected a measure that expressed support for forcing Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), the paramilitary fighting force that has killed hundreds of Americans, to pay compensation to its victims. The resolution also expressed support for keeping the IRGC on the U.S. terrorist lists. The Biden administration was rumored to be considering dropping the designation as part of a concessions package to Tehran in nuclear talks. Biden during his first visit to the Middle East last week said dropping the designation is no longer under consideration.
One measure that was killed would have stopped funds from being allocated to any effort aimed at removing Iran from terrorist financing watchlists, and another would have mandated congressional reports on Iran's illicit oil trade, which has skyrocketed since the Biden administration relaxed sanctions.
Meanwhile, Iranian leaders announced over the weekend that the country officially has the technical know-how to produce an atomic bomb, a disclosure that has increased calls for the Biden administration to cease diplomacy and begin sanctioning Iran's nuclear and missile programs.