Congress Defies Obama on Iran Missile Sanctions

Iran Tests Ballistic Missile YouTube ali javid
YouTube/ali javid

President Barack Obama strategically backpedalled from his vows to impose sanctions against Iran after they violated international law by conducting two missile tests, thus failing to deliver on his promise to work with Congress on this issue.

As a consequence of the commander in chief’s willful lack of action, Congress has stepped in to ensure Iran does not continue its quest for regional hegemony, and on Thursday the House Foreign Affairs Committee passed a bipartisan measure to that effect.

House Resolution 3662, the Iran Terror Finance Transparency Act, enhances congressional oversight and ensures that the Obama administration will not lift sanctions against individuals involved in Iran’s ballistic missiles program or involved in carrying out acts of terrorism. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) issued the following statement following the bill’s passage:

Since the Obama Administration sealed the Iran nuclear deal, Tehran has been on a roll. It has accelerated its missile program, taken more Americans hostage, and stepped up its slaughter in Syria. And in a few weeks, it will cash-in with tens of billions in sanctions relief. All of this comes with no pushback from the Administration. And now we understand that some entities set for sanctions relief–like Iran’s Bank Meli and Bank Sepah–will be given a pass for backing ballistic missile development and terrorism.

Iran is responsible for the torching of a Saudi Embassy in response to the execution of a Shiite cleric, in addition to launching a rocket within 1,500 yards of the USS Harry Truman Carrier in the Persian Gulf. “The point of this bill is to hold Iran accountable,” Royce said. “The Administration repeatedly told us while pursuing a nuclear deal that it would not let up the pressure on Iran’s support for terrorism, or its ballistic missile program,” Royce added. “This legislation holds the Administration to those commitments.”

Concern also stems from the fact that IRGC-Quds General and Commander Qasem Soleimani, who is responsible for assassinations outside of Iran, was recently removed from the U.S. Treasury Department’s list of terrorists.

Rep. Elliot Engel (D-NY) said he was opposed to HR 3662 because President Obama will surely veto the bill if it reaches him. He added, “I thought we were wrong to allow Iran to continue enriching during the talks” and that he both voted against the nuclear deal and continues to see the JCPOA as being deeply flawed. “Congress had an opportunity to vote against the deal and lost. The deal has now gone into effect,” Engel said. “Congress has spoken and it’s done.”

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) agreed but added that despite the JCPOA’s passage, Congress should not shy away from imposing sanctions on the theocratic regime for its clear violations.

Seven Democratic lawmakers sent a letter to President Obama on Wednesday, urging him to impose sanctions on Iran after they carried out the two ballistic missile tests.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee also passed House Resolution 4314 on Thursday. Among the aims of the Counterterrorism Screening and Assistance Act of 2016 is requiring a plan to combat international travel by terrorists and foreign fighters, establishing minimum international border security standards, and authorizing the suspension of foreign assistance to countries that do not make significant efforts to comply.

Royce said the terrorist attacks in Paris were indicative of “how easy it has become for terrorists and foreign fighters to move across open borders… This important legislation makes several changes to combat this problem by requiring the Departments of State and Homeland Security to produce an annual ‘score card’ assessing the border security efforts of countries around the world and establishing minimum standards for border security.”

Foreign nations who don’t meet the standards could have their financial aid suspended. Part of the legislation would work towards closing gaps in the international community that currently make it possible for terrorists to enter the U.S. and other countries.

Rep. Dana Rohrbacher (R-CA) suggested a lie detector test and others measures set forth in HR 4314 could have stopped Pakistani-born San Bernardino terrorist Tashfeen Malik from entering the United States.

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz and on Facebook.


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