House Resolution Slams Biden's $6 Billion Iran Prisoner Swap

Republicans move to block further efforts to free up funds for Tehran

(Alex Wong/Getty Images)
September 28, 2023

House Republicans on Thursday filed a resolution expressing disapproval of the Biden administration's $6 billion ransom deal with Iran amid reports of ongoing diplomacy between Washington and Tehran, in what congressional sources described as an opening salvo in the Republican-controlled chamber's efforts to block the White House from freeing up more funds for Tehran.

The resolution condemns a range of recent diplomatic gambits that the Biden administration either hid from Congress or only admitted to lawmakers after significant pressure and delays, according to a copy that was exclusively obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. The resolution's language provides a roadmap for Republican leaders to stymie the Biden administration's diplomacy with Tehran, particularly amid speculation the United States could free up another $3 billion in Iranian funds frozen in Japan.

The measure asks President Joe Biden to submit all deals inked with Iran to Congress, as required under the 2015 Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, which was crafted to give lawmakers a veto over any future deals with Tehran. The Biden administration's hostage deal, reached earlier this month, was crafted without congressional scrutiny. In the lead-up to the hostage deal and the weeks since it was implemented, the Biden administration has kept Congress in the dark, a tactic that critics charge is both illegal and designed to hide the scope of American concessions to the Iranian regime.

"Despite an almost uninterrupted tenure of failure on the world stage, Biden's foreign policy team maintains they are the practitioners of realpolitik and the adults in the room," Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.), a House Foreign Affairs Committee member who is spearheading the resolution along with 27 Republican colleagues, told the Free Beacon. "This conceit has led them straight to an Iran policy not of engagement on America's terms, but a non-stop progression of concessions, appeasement, and now billions in ransom for hostages. All of this has made the mullahs rich, Tehran less isolated, and the world's leading terror regime closer to a full nuclear capability. This Congress realizes it's time to step in."

The early support for the resolution—which is certain to gain widespread Republican support—is a sign that House Republicans are fed up with the Biden administration's diplomacy with Tehran, which has resulted in the hardline regime gaining billions in oil profits as the United States shuns sanctions enforcement. The measure calls out Biden's diplomatic team for quietly relaxing oil sanctions on Iran, allowing the country's exports of illicit crude to hit a five-year high that has brought the regime more than $44 billion in revenue.

"This is a real acknowledgment from the GOP conference that we need to give more attention to Iran because this administration is dangerous," said one senior congressional aide familiar with the matter.

The measure also helps carve a path for House oversight bodies to haul senior Biden administration officials before Congress for public hearings on the administration's closed-door diplomacy.

In addition to positioning the House against the hostage deal's $6 billion ransom payment, the resolution makes it known that the Biden administration "delayed [congressional] notification of sanctions relief," preventing lawmakers from performing oversight on the agreement.

"The release of funds to Iranian control," the measure notes, "will allow Iran to strengthen its illicit nuclear and ballistic missile programs and its financing of terrorism." Congress, it continues, "disapproves of the use of sanctions relief as a mechanism to make ransom payments."

Any new sanctions relief and agreements with Iran must be submitted to Congress, according to the resolution.

Another portion expresses Congress's "outrage that Secretary [of State Antony] Blinken transmitted a notification of an agreement with the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism on September 11, the anniversary of the deadliest terrorist attack in United States history."

Richard Goldberg, a former White House National Security Council member who worked on the Iran portfolio, praised the House measure, saying it is " the appropriate first step to educate the public about this dangerous secret nuclear deal and to let every bank and company in the world know that this deal is illegitimate in the eyes of Congress."

Goldberg, currently a senior adviser at the Foundation For Defense of Democracies think tank, recently called for such a resolution during testimony earlier this month before Congress.

The resolution of disapproval represents "a moment of choosing for members—it's a vote on whether America should be subsidizing the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism to fund terror plots against Americans, develop nuclear weapons capabilities, brutalize Iranian women and help Putin attack Ukraine," Goldberg said. "Senate Republicans should consider introducing something similar and pressing for the majority leader for a vote."

The resolution also comes amid a bombshell report alleging that a senior Pentagon official who once worked alongside sidelined Biden Iran envoy Robert Malley was part of an Iranian government-run propaganda network. Malley is suspended from his post as the FBI investigates his potential mishandling of classified information.