Blaine’s Bulletin: The Biden Administration Continues Catering to Iran

Reliable intelligence agencies around the world agree that Iran played a pivotal role in funding and training Hamas terrorists. Their calculated efforts, part of a 25-year plan to erase Israel from existence, directly contributed to 1,200 deaths on Oct. 7.

The threat is far from over. After President Biden told Iran, “Don’t,” its proxy militia groups effectively said, “Watch.” American troops working to contain the regional conflict have faced rocket, drone, and missile attacks bought and paid for by the ayatollahs. Iran continues to serve as the primary financer of jihad groups and has even sent militants across our southern border to establish sleeper cells on U.S. soil.

Facing these blatant acts of hostility, the Biden administration has maintained the posture of a scared dog willing to roll over. They have retreated from the Trump-era maximum pressure campaign that had kept Iran in check and sent its ruthless general, Qasem Soleimani, to the grave. Moreover, President Biden and his cabinet members refuse to properly enforce sanctions and continue to allow funds to flow into Iran that will, one way or another, sponsor terror.

This week, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken reapproved a waiver for electricity sales between Iran and Iraq, granting Iran access to roughly $10 billion in revenue. Rep. Bill Huizenga from Michigan joined me in sending a letter to Secretary Blinken earlier this month warning against the move and requesting clarification on the rationale behind it. As members of the House Financial Services Committee and subcommittee chairmen, it’s an issue we’ve worked on closely for some time and understand well. The State Department ignored our calls and moved forward with its bad decision.

Worse than allowing Iran to sell electricity to Iraq, the latest waiver allows the purchase to be made in Euros (instead of the Iraqi dinar) making it much easier for Iran to use the proceeds in the world market – or the illegal arms trade.

The funds, like the $6 billion President Biden unfroze in September, were supposed to address humanitarian needs. However, our sanctions regime lacks sufficient safeguards to ensure that actually happens. Apparently, President Biden is so afraid of optics that he won’t police or second-guess anything Iran claims is humanitarian aid. Either that or he is ignorant of Iran’s willingness to lie and divert funds to nefarious purposes.

In October, as Chairman of the National Security and Illicit Finance Subcommittee I led a hearing specifically focused on Iran’s practice of evading sanctions. The same day, Rep. Huizenga’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing to examine the Iranian government’s efforts to move money and finance terrorism. Time and time again, evidence proves the Iranian government is rife with money laundering risk and we cannot trust them with assets.

Congress has repeatedly endorsed humanitarian exemptions in our sanctions laws, as we want to target the dictatorship in Tehran – not the innocent civilians who are suffering under it. At the same time, all of us should want reassurances that aid is actually reaching those in need.

Currently, it is too easy for Iran to move money around once it has received aid. If the government normally spends $10 billion on food, medicine, and other basic necessities, additional relief should not replace those funds in their budget. We shouldn’t see Iran suddenly buy $10 billion in weapons now that other countries are taking on the burden of caring for their people. We also don’t want to allow for loopholes like buying and immediately reselling humanitarian goods to fund terrorism.

This week, my bill to guard against the president’s blind naivety gained unanimous support in the House Financial Services Committee. If passed into law, it will help ensure that future humanitarian assistance to Iran – whether it relates to the $6 billion in Qatar or not – is subject to appropriate due diligence and will only be used for humanitarian aid.

The president has proved he cannot handle this issue on his own, and we cannot wait any longer for him to figure it out. My legislation, along with 10 other bills we passed out of the Financial Services Committee, will hold Iran and Hamas accountable, conduct oversight of the Biden administration’s sanctions, and direct him to take action when necessary.

President Biden must not continue catering to our enemies. He and his staff have demonstrated a pattern of asinine decisions that is unforgivable. My colleagues and I are committed to righting the administration’s wrongs and forcing them to learn from their mistakes.