Kennedy, Scott, Risch raise concerns after Biden administration releases $6 billion to Iran in secret negotiation
Aug 21 2023
MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) joined Sens. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Jim Risch (R-Idaho) in raising concerns about the Biden administration’s decision to release $6 billion in frozen assets to the Islamic Republic of Iran in exchange for the release of five American detainees.
In the letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, the senators expressed concerns that the Biden administration is attempting to circumvent congressional authority to enter into a nuclear agreement with the Iranian Regime, as the Obama administration attempted.
The letter also asked the cabinet members to commit to blocking Iran’s access to special drawing rights at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), a threat to which Kennedy has repeatedly drawn attention. Iran gained access to about $5 billion in special drawing rights through the IMF deal that President Joe Biden made in 2021 without approval from Congress.
“When the Obama administration released $400 million in liquidated assets to Iran in 2016, we warned that this dangerous precedent would put a price on American lives. Seven years later, the current administration is providing a ransom payment worth at least fifteen times that amount to the world’s largest state sponsor of terror, in yet another violation of the United States’ long-standing ‘no concessions’ policy,” wrote the senators.
“The release of such a significant sum to the Iranian regime runs entirely counter to that claim and will only serve to encourage additional hostage taking for financial or political gain,” they continued.
“We are also worried that your administration is attempting to sidestep Congress and pursue other pathways to financially compensate Iran in an attempt to renegotiate a successor to the ill-fated 2015 nuclear deal. Any agreement with the Iranian regime that entails financial reward for malign behavior is wholly unacceptable,” the senators stated.
The lawmakers also requested an in-person briefing on the risk the agreement poses to American citizens overseas and to U.S. national security interests.
Sens. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Katie Britt (R-Ala.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Ted Budd (R-N.C.), J.D. Vance (R-Ohio), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Pete Ricketts (R-Neb.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Roger Marshall (R-Kansas), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) also joined the letter.
The full letter is available here.