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Washington, D.C. – Tonight the House of Representatives passed Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce’s (R-CA) Prohibiting Future Ransom Payments to Iran Act (H.R. 5931).  The legislation prohibits future cash payments to Iran – period.

On the House floor prior to the vote, Chairman Royce delivered the following remarks (as prepared for delivery):

“The legislation before us would prevent the Obama Administration’s dangerous actions of last January from ever happening again.  With this bill – there will be no more secret planes full of cash to fund Iran’s terrorism.

As Members of the House will recall, the President announced in January that the United States would pay Iran $1.7 billion to settle a dispute involving a 1979 arms deal.

At no time did the Administration even mention that it was seeking a settlement to this case.  The payment came out of the blue.  And from the start, Iranian military commanders were calling it ransom.

After months of pressing from the Foreign Affairs Committee and the media, the Obama administration finally admitted it ignored concerns from the Justice Department – and longstanding U.S. policy against paying ransom – and paid a total of $1.7 billion in cash to the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.  We now know the release of Americans held hostage in Iran was specifically linked to these pallets of cash.

Not surprisingly, Iran has since taken several more Americans and other dual nationals hostage.

Now the Administration claims cash was the only way.  But that’s simply not true.  It could have permitted a transaction to go through the international financial system.  Just this week, the Treasury Department confirmed that other recent transactions with Iran were conducted through traditional banking channels.

Instead, the Administration chose to deliver $1.7 billion in untraceable assets to Iran’s radical regime.

That’s particularly galling when the international body charged with developing policies to combat money laundering and terrorism financing tells us that ‘physical transportation of currency’ is ‘one of the main methods used to move criminal assets, launder money and finance terrorism.’

I believe that is why Iran wanted the cash – to support terrorism. It’s not a coincidence to me that this desire for cash comes just as the Committee’s legislation to crack down on banks that finance Hezbollah is having an impact. Iran and its proxies need cash. And this Administration gave it to them.

So this legislation – which passed out of the Foreign Affairs Committee last week – has two core elements.  One, it prohibits future cash payments – for any reason – to Iran. And two, it demands transparency and advance notification of any future settlements related to the U.S.-Iran Hague Tribunal so that the Congress is not surprised again.

It poses a fundamental question. Are we comfortable providing Iran—the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, that’s fueling a blood bath in Syria—with billions of dollars in cash that they can turn around and funnel to the Assad regime, to Hezbollah, and to Hamas?”

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