In response to Hamas’ attacks on Israel, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) intend to try to pass legislation to refreeze Iranian assets.
As part of a prisoner exchange last month, the Biden administration unfroze $6 billion in Iranian assets. This bill would put a hold on those funds again. The legislation is a response to missile attacks, an invasion, and a string of murders, rapes, and hostage-taking in Israel by Hamas, an Iranian-backed terrorist organization, that began on October 7.
“The path of resources, training, and lethal weapons from Tehran to terrorists throughout the Middle East is clear. On Saturday, it enabled cold-blooded killers like Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad to perpetrate the deadliest day of violence against Jews in decades,” said McConnell.
“The civilized world must reimpose serious consequences on the regime that aids and abets murderous evil against innocent Israelis,” he continued. “The United States must lead that effort by our example, and freezing Iranian assets is an important first step.”
“Iran is the world’s worst state sponsor of terrorism. In addition to funding Hamas’s devastating terrorist attacks against Israel, the regime’s proxies have attacked dozens of American targets in the region in recent years,” said Sen. Tom Cotton.
“The Biden administration’s decision to let Iran access the $6 billion immediately freed up other money for the regime to fund its attacks in Israel,” said Cotton. “The Biden administration should immediately refreeze the funds.”
Ohio Republican and Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sherrod Brown favored the bill.
“Congress’s priority right now must be providing robust military, economic, and humanitarian aid to support Israel as they defend themselves against Hamas’s horrific terrorist attack. We must also confirm key national security nominees who play a critical role in working with their Israeli partners,” he said.
“While we undertake this work, the Banking and Housing Committee will examine the financing behind Hamas’s attacks, including whether cryptocurrency was involved, and what additional economic tools we need to stop state sponsors of terrorism, including Iran, from supporting Hamas and other terrorist groups,” Brown continued. “As we work to hold any state sponsors of terrorism accountable, the administration must freeze the $6 billion in Iranian assets.”
Any senator, though, is very likely to be opposed to it. Therefore, the bill would have to follow the existing procedure. The fate of this bill rests in the hands of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (R-N.Y.), who decides which bills are put to a vote in the upper congressional chamber.
The State Department claims it has the authority to refreeze the $6 billion now held in a Qatar account. They say the funds are non-fungible because they can’t be used for anything other than humanitarian or other non-sanctioned purposes. Critics have pointed out that Iran may effortlessly acquire $6 billion elsewhere to fund its destructive activities, such as its support for terrorism because the monies are fungible.