Republicans are championing a new bill that will force Iran to compensate American victims of Iranian terror before it can use any sanctions relief funds it receives from the Iran deal.
The bill, Justice for Victims of Iranian Terrorism Act, passed the House last week by a vote of 251-173, with ten Democrats in favor and no Republicans opposed. A similar bill passed through the Senate Banking Committee last week in a bipartisan 13-9 vote.
Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) hailed the bill’s approval by the committee: “By passing the Justice for Victims of Iranian Terror Act in a bipartisan vote, the Senate Banking Committee honored over 290 Americans who died at the hands of Iranian terror in Lebanon during the 1980s, including 13 Americans from Illinois” Kirk’s likely Democratic opponent in the 2016 U.S. Senate race, Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), voted against the bill in the House.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee said that Duckworth had “cast a vote in Congress to protect the Iranian regime and support terrorists instead of their victims.”
The issue could be an important one in what is expected to be a close Senate race–and could resonate elsewhere. Republicans likely lack the votes to overcome a Democratic filibuster in the Senate, but will remind voters of Democrats’ stance on Iranian terror in 2016.
The Obama administration opposes the new bill, stating: “Obstructing implementation of the JCPOA would greatly undermine our national security interests. It would result in the collapse of a comprehensive diplomatic arrangement that peacefully and verifiably prevents Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.”
The White House has previously acknowledged that some of the $100 to $150 billion in relief will be used to fund Iranian terror abroad.
The new bill would apply to judgments already handed down against the Iranian government in U.S. courts, and which Iran is refusing to pay. (Iran, in retaliation, recently issued a $50 billion judgment against the U.S.) In addition to the legislative effort, victims of Iranian terror have sued the Obama administration to stop any sanctions relief to Iran until they are paid the money they are owed according to past judgments, the LawFare blog reports.