Congress is set to consider new legislation that would block the Obama administration from awarding Iran billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars in what many describe as a ransom payment, according to a copy of the legislation obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) will introduce on Tuesday new legislation that would prohibit the Obama administration from moving forward with all payments to Iran, according to the bill, which would also force Iran to return billions of dollars in U.S. funds that have already been delivered to Tehran by the White House.
Rubio’s bill—a version of which is also being introduced in the House by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.)—would mandate that Iran pay American victims of terrorism some $53 billion in reparations for past attacks planned and coordinated by the Islamic Republic.
The legislation comes amid a growing scandal surrounding the Obama administration’s decision to pay Iran $1.7 billion earlier this year as part of an effort to free imprisoned U.S. hostages. The payment, details of which were kept secret from Congress and the American people, is expected to become the focus of several congressional investigations in the coming weeks.
"President Obama’s disastrous nuclear deal with Iran was sweetened with an illicit ransom payment and billions of dollars for the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism," Rubio said in a statement provided to the Free Beacon. "The U.S. government should not be in the business of negotiating with terrorists and paying ransom money in exchange for the release of American hostages. Doing so puts more Americans in danger, as President Obama himself admitted."
The State Department recently reissued a travel warning for U.S. citizens traveling to Iran due to the possibility of kidnapping and imprisonment by the Iranian government.
Rubio said his new bill "would stop the Obama administration from making any further payments to Iran from the [Treasury Department’s] Judgment Fund until Iran returns the ransom money it received and pays the American victims of Iranian terrorism what they are owed."
"President Obama may have attempted to appease our enemy with pallets of cash secretly delivered on an unmarked cargo plane, but Iran continues to cheat on the nuclear deal, harass our military, hold Americans hostage, and fund terrorism around the world," Rubio added. "Iran should be held accountable, and the Obama administration’s misguided policies must be stopped."
Rubio’s bill, called the No Ransom Payments Act, is co-sponsored by Sens. John Cornyn (R., Texas), Mark Kirk (R., Ill.), Kelly Ayotte (R., N.H.), John Barrasso (R., Wyo.), and Shelley Moore Capito (R., W.Va.).
"Congress is taking a clear stand—demanding Iran return the more than $1 billion the Obama Administration wrongly gave them and putting a stop to any and all future money this administration, or any administration might want to give to state sponsors of terrorism like Iran," Pompeo, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, told the Free Beacon. "The American people know this is an unacceptable use of their taxpayer dollars and we wholeheartedly agree. It is unprecedented and dangerous for President Obama to be doling out millions to the Islamic Republic of Iran—in the dead of night, under wraps, and in cash. Kansans expect and demand better from their government."
Rubio on Tuesday also filed a separate piece of legislation that would stop the Obama administration from permitting U.S. corporations and banks from selling Iran aircraft and mechanical parts.
The Obama administration has sought to issue waivers to remove sanctions on companies and banks that could facilitate these transactions with Iran.
Congressional leaders and regional experts have warned that Iran routinely uses its national air carrier, Iran Air, to conduct terror operations and transport military forces into war zones in Syria and elsewhere.