GOP Moves To Block Cash to Iran Through Defense Authorization Bill 

Provisions would prevent sanctions relief and expose Iran's malign activities

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September 23, 2021

The sprawling annual defense bill includes several provisions that would block the Biden administration from providing Iran with cash and would require the administration to come clean about any economic sanctions relief it provides to the Islamic Republic.

The Republican Study Committee (RSC), the largest GOP caucus in Congress, is codifying its anti-Iran platform in the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act, which funds U.S. defense efforts and is expected to pass through the House this week.

Republicans are using the NDAA to crack down on Iran and expose concessions the Biden administration is making to Tehran as part of negotiations aimed at securing a revamped version of the 2015 nuclear deal. Several measures included in the House version of the NDAA—which will also have to be ratified by the Senate—would give lawmakers an unprecedented window into Iran’s malign activities, as well as efforts by the Biden administration to unwind sanctions on the hardline regime.

Republicans have been planning their NDAA approach for months, according to congressional sources working on the matter. The RSC and its members are spearheading several investigations into the Biden administration’s diplomacy with Iran and its efforts to provide Iran with a financial lifeline. The RSC worked with Democratic colleagues to sculpt several NDAA measures that would mandate transparency from the Biden administration as it negotiates with Iran, these sources told the Washington Free Beacon. These measures are included in the bipartisan legislation and expected to easily pass when the House votes Thursday evening.

"In this year’s NDAA, the RSC worked with our members to draft a number of unprecedented provisions holding the Biden administration accountable for its failed policies requiring regular mandatory reports by the administration into how much money in sanctions relief Iran has used to modernize its military and fund its terrorist proxies," said Rep. Jim Banks (R., Ind.), the RSC chair and a member of the House Armed Services Committee.

GOP leaders are touting one provision that would require the Treasury Department to immediately inform Congress when sanctions are waived on state sponsors of terrorism—requiring the Biden administration to tell Congress up front about any sanctions relief it is giving to Iran. This is meant to address the Biden administration’s refusal to brief Congress on the state of negotiations with Iran and the concessions being discussed in those talks. Currently, the administration is not required to provide such notification.

Another measure would require the government to provide to Congress a report on all malign operations being conducted by Iran on U.S. soil, another unprecedented requirement. This would include Iran-backed terrorist attacks, kidnapping plots, export violations, sanctions-busting activities, and money laundering. The amendment is meant to address an increase in Iranian activity in America, including a high-profile kidnapping plot of an American journalist that was thwarted earlier this year.

There is also a measure that would require the secretary of defense to inform Congress about the short- and long-term threats posed by Iranian-backed militias in Iraq. There is mounting concern in Congress that these militia groups are plotting terror attacks on U.S. outposts. Iranian-backed militias operating in Iraq have been identified as responsible for a series of drone strikes on U.S. positions, including attacks on the U.S. embassy compound in Iraq.

The growing relationship between Iran and China also is addressed in the NDAA.

The government would be required to provide Congress with regular updates about the growing military relationship between Iran and China, including any weapons transfers, military visits, and material support given by Beijing to Tehran’s armed forces.

Other provisions require Congress be given information about Iran’s military capabilities and its terrorist proxy groups, which include Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas.

"No one understands the Iran threat as well as RSC members," Banks said. "Since the start of the Congress, RSC has led the fight to hold the Biden administration accountable for its disastrous plans to re-enter the failed Obama Iran deal."

Democrats successfully blocked several other GOP-led initiatives, including a measure that would have required the president to tell Congress about any energy deals it facilitates between Syria and other Arab countries. The Biden administration is expected to waive sanctions on Syrian president Bashar al-Assad to permit an energy deal for Lebanon, the Free Beacon first reported earlier this month.

Republicans blame House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Gregory Meeks (D., N.Y.) for standing in the way of several measures that would have increased pressure on Iran and the Biden administration.

Published under: Iran