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Top Senate Republicans are aiming to force President Joe Biden to refreeze $6 billion in Iranian oil revenue that the administration unfroze last month in exchange for the release of U.S. citizens who were being wrongfully detained.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) introduced legislation to block the Iranians from being able to access the $6 billion.
“The path of resources, training, and lethal weapons from Tehran to terrorists throughout the Middle East is crystal 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 re-impose serious consequences on the regime that aids and abets murderous evil against innocent Israelis. The United States must lead that effort by our example, and freezing Iranian assets is an important first step.”
Cotton noted that Iran has attacked American targets in the region for decades and that Biden unfreezing the $6 billion for Iran “freed up other money for the regime to fund its attacks in Israel.”
A separate group of Republicans wrote a letter to Biden on Monday calling on him to freeze the money following the deadly terrorist attacks over the weekend.
“Your administration claims these funds are only available for humanitarian use, but money is fungible, and there is significant risk they could be used to further efforts by Iran or Hamas against Israel,” the senators wrote. “Moreover, allowing $6 billion to flow into Iran’s economy, even if the purpose is for humanitarian aid, allows the Iranian regime to reallocate even more funds to supporting terrorism.”
The letter was signed by Republican Sens. Marsha Blackburn (TN), Sens. Thom Tillis (NC), Steve Daines (MT), Rick Scott (FL), Kevin Cramer (ND), Senate Republican Whip John Thune (SD), James Lankford (OK), Mike Lee (UT), John Cornyn (TX), Bill Cassidy (LA), Lindsey Graham (SC), Katie Britt (AL), Tom Cotton (AR), Pete Ricketts (NE), Mike Braun (IN), Markwayne Mullin (OK), Eric Schmitt (MO), Ted Budd (NC), Marco Rubio (FL) and Roger Marshall (KS).
Several Democrat senators who are vulnerable in their 2024 re-election campaigns have also called on Biden to refreeze the money. These Democrats include Democrat Sens. Joe Manchin (WV), Jon Tester (MT), Jacky Rosen (NV), Bob Casey (PA), Tammy Baldwin (WI), and Sherrod Brown (OH).