Two Senators introduced a bipartisan bill Wednesday designed to increase enforcement of sanctions targeting Iran.
Republican Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst and Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut introduced the Enforce Iranian Sanctions Act, which would empower Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) to enforce oil sanctions against Iran following a wave of attacks conducted by Iranian proxy groups targeting American personnel across the Middle East, according to its text. Iran has generated around $80 billion in oil revenues since the Biden administration assumed power and relaxed enforcement in 2021, according to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
“Make no mistake – the chaos Iran-backed Hamas is inflicting on the world is fueled and funded by Biden’s appeasement strategy,” Ernst told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Since Biden took office, his refusal to enforce existing sanctions has lined the (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’) pockets with over $80 billion, which has greenlit more terrorism targeting Americans and put more U.S. servicemembers in harm’s way,” she continued, adding that she is “putting an end to Iranian proxies’ payday” and that the “bipartisan bill cuts the red tape and equips Homeland Security Investigations, and its proven record of enforcing sanctions, with the resources it needs to go after and stop Tehran. It’s time to end Biden’s weakness on the world stage.” (RELATED: Biden Admin, UN Inaction Poised To End Sanctions Against Iran Missile Program)
Iran has seen its oil production jump by about 1 million barrels per day since the Biden administration came to power in 2021, despite the comprehensive U.S. sanctions package in place designed to inhibit Iran’s oil revenues. The lax sanctions enforcement has come back into focus following the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks perpetrated against Israel by Hamas, which receives logistical support and a considerable share of its funding from the Iranian regime, according to the Association of Certified Financial Crime Specialists.
“Any notion that we have provided sanctions relief to the regime or that we are not enforcing our sanctions is false,” a State Department spokesperson told the DCNF. “The Biden Administration has administered dozens of separate Iran sanctions roll-outs targeting more than 400 individuals and entities, including those in Iran’s petroleum and petrochemicals sectors,” the spokesperson continued, adding that “as a general matter we do not comment on pending legislation or Congressional members’ intended actions.”
The bill would authorize $150 million to create the Iran Sanctions Enforcement Fund to enable HSI to enforce oil sanctions against Iran, which has long been considered the leading state sponsor of terrorism by the U.S. government, according to the bill’s text. That funding is to be paid back over the ensuing ten years in inflation-adjusted dollars.
The bill, which would guarantee that no future president could diminish HSI’s enforcement authority, would also route 75% of the money from U.S. oil seizures to the Victims of State Sponsored Terror Fund, according to its text. The remaining 25% would go to the enforcement fund, capped at $500 million, and any money generated from oil seizures in excess of that amount would go toward paying down the national debt.
Republican Rep. August Pfluger of Texas, who chairs the Counterterrorism, Law Enforcement and Intelligence Subcommittee, is introducing the House companion for the Senate bill, a spokeswoman for Ernst told the DCNF.
“We are not doing any sanctions enforcement right now, quite intentionally, because it is part of the give to Iran to entice them to stop short of developing a nuclear weapon,” Richard Goldberg, a senior advisor for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and former director for Countering Iranian Weapons of Mass Destruction for the Trump administration’s National Security Council, previously told the DCNF, referencing reports that some members within or closely connected to the Biden administration have engaged in negotiations with Tehran to rekindle some version of the scrapped 2015 Iran nuclear deal. “The Iranians think they have the White House where they want them.”
The White House and Treasury Department did not respond immediately to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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