December 3, 2023

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Capito, Manchin want Biden to freeze $6 billion in funds released to Iran

Oct. 19—U.S. Senator , R-W.Va., and U.S. , D-W.Va., are urging the Biden administration to freeze the $6 billion in funding recently made available to Iran, which they argue has a history of supporting acts of terrorism through Hamas.

Capito is backing the Revoke Iranian Funding Act, a measure in the U.S. Senate that aims to rescind the general licenses that enabled the release of $6 billion to Iran and to prevent the Iranian regime from accessing and using the funds held in Qatar to finance terrorist attacks against Israel or any other nation.

Manchin, meanwhile, has signed on to a bipartisan letter urging U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to make it the official policy of the United States to freeze the $6 billion in Iranian assets in the wake of Hamas’s deadly terrorist attacks on Israel on October 7.

The Revoke Iranian Funding Act was introduced by U.S. Senator Tim Scott, R-S.C. The bill also directs the Treasury Secretary to study all high-value Iranian assets around the world that are currently blocked by U.S. sanctions and to provide that information to Congress. Capito said doing so will ensure that Congress has the information necessary to enact further targeted legislation, if necessary.



“Providing a $6 billion credit to Iran, the world leader in state sponsored terrorism, only emboldens our adversaries and weakens the standing of the United States and our allies,” Capito said. “As Hamas continues their attacks of terror on Israel, supported by Iran, this funding must be unequivocally frozen and general licenses must be rescinded.”

Capito said Congress must use every tool available to prevent the illicit financing of terrorist activities. She said the Biden administration is also endangering the lives of Americans and U.S. allies by allowing Iran to have access to the $6 billion in funding.

A companion bill has not yet been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives because that legislative chamber is still unable to act on bills without a House Speaker.

In September, the State Department announced its intention to release the $6 billion in assets to Iran. However, given Iran’s long-standing material and financial support for Hamas, Manchin said the Biden administration must reverse its decision.

Manchin joined U.S. Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV), U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), U.S. Senator James Lankford (R-OK), U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK), U.S. Senator Mark Kelly (D-AZ), U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-IN), U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) in the letter asking the administration to reverse that decision.

Capito didn’t sign on to that bipartisan letter, nor did U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, D-Va., or U.S. Senator Mark Warner, D-Va.

“Given Iran’s history of supporting acts of terrorism through Hamas, the United States must do everything in its power in the wake of this brutal attack to ensure that Iran is not in a position to continue funding Hamas’ terrorist activities in Israel and throughout the Middle East,” Manchin and the other senators wrote in the letter to Blinken. “As you know, the State Department’s 2021 Country Report on Terrorism found that Hamas received weapons systems and other direct support from Iran, allowing the group to carry out deadly attacks against Israel. In 2022, Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of Hamas, stated publicly that the terrorist organization had received $70 million in assistance from Iran that year, and that it used the money to build rockets.”

Blinken, and other members of the Biden administration, have said in recent days that Iran has not accessed that funding to date. But critics of the administration argue that even if Iran hasn’t utilized the $6 billion in assets it can still move other money around with the knowledge that the $6 billion in funds is available for use later.

— Contact Charles Owens at [email protected]

— Contact Charles Owens at [email protected]. Follow him @BDTOwens

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