Republicans Aim To Force Biden To Refreeze Funds To Iran

( – Republican and Democratic administrations and lawmakers take varying approaches to foreign policy, remaining fairly consistent regarding relations with friendly nations. However, clear differences emerge when dealing with adversarial nations. Such is the case with President Joe Biden’s approach to Iran, particularly in light of recent events in Israel.

A couple of top Senate Republicans recently took the initial steps to push back on Biden’s recent decision to unfreeze billions of dollars of Iranian funds. Here’s what we know so far.

Top Senate Republicans Preparing Clash With Biden Administration Over Iranian Funds

On October 11, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) announced their decision to introduce a bill blocking Iran’s ability to access $6 billion in oil production funds released by Biden in August. The senators also said they plan to seek unanimous consent to speed up the measure’s passage, considering the urgency of the Israel-Hamas War and Iran’s alleged involvement in planning and funding the Palestinian terrorist group’s recent attack.

If the measure passes, it would reinstate certain US sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran. Likewise, the 2-page bill would nullify the president’s recent waiver of sanctions that led to the transfer of Iranian funds from the Republic of Korea (South Korea) to Qatar for eventual distribution. The proposed legislation would also prohibit any future waivers, suspensions, reductions, “or other relief” granted under Biden’s ill-conceived August agreement with Iranian officials.

McConnell warned that the “path of resources, training, and lethal weapons” from Iranian officials to terrorist organizations scattered “throughout the Middle East is crystal clear.” He also urged the “civilized world” to impose “serious consequences” on any nation or regime that “aids or abets murderous evil [waged] against innocent Israelis.”

Cotton echoed that sentiment and added a reminder that Iran is the world’s most insidious “state sponsor of terrorism.” He also noted that Biden’s decision to unfreeze billions in Iranian money freed up other funds that Iran’s ruthless regime used to finance the recent attacks on Israeli soil by Hamas.

Other Republicans Seek White House Reversal on Its Iran Waivers

A group of 20 US Senators led by Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) sent a letter to Biden on October 9 calling on him to immediately rescind his August waiver of sanctions against Iran. They also asked his administration to work with Qatar to freeze the accounts containing the $6 billion in Iranian oil revenue. Notable signatories to the letter included Senators Lindsey Graham (SC), Rick Scott (FL), John Cornyn (TX), and Cotton.

The Republican lawmakers also disputed the president’s claims that those funds could only be accessed for humanitarian purposes. They warned that the money is “fungible” (interchangeable) and presents a significant risk to Israel.

On Thursday, October 12, the US worked with Qatar to ensure the funds were frozen and only available on a case-by-case basis to humanitarian efforts.

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