Top Senate Republicans, led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Tom Cotton, have introduced legislation aimed at compelling President Joe Biden to re-impose a freeze on $6 billion in Iranian oil revenue that the administration unfroze last month in exchange for the release of wrongfully detained U.S. citizens.
McConnell underscored the importance of re-imposing serious consequences on the Iranian regime for its support of terrorists in the Middle East, which led to the deadly attacks against Israelis. He argued that the United States should lead by example, and one of the crucial first steps should be freezing Iranian assets.
Cotton emphasized Iran’s history of targeting American interests in the region and how the unfreezing of $6 billion allowed Iran to have additional resources for funding its attacks in Israel. Cotton argued that it is essential to block Iran’s access to this money to prevent further violence.
A group of Republicans wrote a letter to President Biden urging him to re-impose the freeze on the $6 billion, expressing concern that the funds, though designated for humanitarian use, could be fungible and used to support terrorism. The letter was signed by several Republican Senators, including Marsha Blackburn, Thom Tillis, Steve Daines, Rick Scott, John Thune, and others.
Notably, several Democrat Senators, facing re-election in 2024, have also called on President Biden to refreeze the money. These Democratic Senators include Joe Manchin, Jon Tester, Jacky Rosen, Bob Casey, Tammy Baldwin, and Sherrod Brown.
The bipartisan efforts to block access to these funds underscore the serious concern over Iran’s role in promoting violence and supporting terrorism in the Middle East, as well as the perceived risk associated with the unfreezing of these assets.