Following Release of Additional Iran Sanctions Waivers, Scott Leads Republicans in Demanding Transparency from Biden Administration

WASHINGTON — In response to the Biden administration’s recent decision to release yet another Iran sanctions waiver, potentially worth billions of dollars, Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Ranking Member of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee and member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is continuing to lead efforts to hold the administration accountable and demand transparency for the American people on U.S. enabled payments to Iran, the leading state sponsor of terrorism. In a letter to Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, 13 Republican senators raised concerns that the latest waiver makes sanctioned Iranian funds, which could be used to fund terrorism, more accessible to the Iranian regime and disregards congressional intent calling for severe restrictions on payments to Iran.

Banking Committee Republicans, including Senators Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Katie Britt (R-Ala.), and Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), joined the Ranking Member on the letter. Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Ted Budd (R-N.C.), and Pete Ricketts (R-Neb.) also signed the letter. 

In the letter, the senators wrote, “It is unfathomable that this is the context in which the administration determined that it was within the national security interest of the United States to waive sanctions on restricted Iranian funds, making them more accessible to the regime. If we want to actually restore deterrence in the region, those funds should be placed further out of Iran’s reach, not closer.”

They continued, “…the Iran Threat Reduction Act amended section 1245(d)(4) of the FY12 NDAA to require that any funds due to the Iranian regime for petroleum sales must be kept in bank accounts in the country purchasing Iranian oil, in locally dominated currency from which the regime could draw for the purchase of commercial goods. This requirement was intended to limit the Iranian regime’s ability to access hard currency from these sales…However, you have now issued three waivers related to Iraqi electricity payments that authorize funds to be transferred outside of Iraq and for those funds to be denominated in euro… The United States should be restricting Iran’s access to currency abroad. Instead, your administration is expanding it, all while continuing to share limited information on a strategy to restore deterrence in the Middle East with Congress or the American people.”

The letter follows Senator Scott’s November request for a briefing from the administration on its Iran strategy, and it requests answers to detailed questions regarding the administration’s actions. For the full letter and list of questions, click here.

In November, following the Biden administration’s similar decision to extend an Iran sanctions waiver, Senator Scott led a group of 24 senators criticizing the administration’s lack of a cohesive Iran strategy. This letter came after the Biden administration’s decision to extend a sanctions waiver to allow Iraq to pay Iran for electricity. The senators called on Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to provide a classified assessment of the administration’s plan to deter Iranian aggression and prevent the escalation of conflict in the Middle East, noting the administration’s military and economic responses to Iran and its proxies have been disjointed.

Additionally, Senator Scott has taken the following actions with regards to Iran:

  • Immediately following the Biden administration’s August decision to release $6 billion to Iran, Ranking Member Scott led his colleagues in demanding answers from the administration.
  • After the October 7th attack on Israel by Hamas, Senator Scott was the first leader of the Senate Banking Committee to demand accountability from the Biden administration on the release of the $6 billion, and called for Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to testify and for the Senate to investigate the matter.
  • Ranking Member Scott introduced the Revoke Iranian Funding Act, a bipartisan bill to permanently freeze $6 billion released by the Biden administration to Iran and direct the Treasury Secretary to provide Congress with the information it needs to prevent Iran from accessing and using sanctioned funds. He also introduced the Solidify Iran Sanctions Act, to permanently extend key sanctions targeted to stop Iran’s malign activity, including the pursuit of nuclear weapons.
  • Last month, Senator Scott led 9 of his Republican colleagues in calling on the Biden administration to censure Iran at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors meeting following a report showing Iran’s nuclear enrichment activity tripled by the end of last year.