U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and one of the Republicans who wants to take his place in the Senate doubled down on their support of currency sanctions on Iran on Wednesday.
Currently, the federal government has a ban in place on foreign governments and banks to use American currency in transactions with Iran. But with the White House cutting back on sanctions on Iran as part of its nuclear deal with that country, the administration is considering ending the currency restriction with U.S. Treasury Sec. Jack Lew floating the idea in speech last week. That led Rubio and U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., sent a letter to Lew against backing down sanctions on Iran.
Rubio and Kirk teamed up again on Wednesday to bring out a bill ensuring American currency can’t be used in Iran. The proposal would ensure sanctions are imposed on any bank that uses American currency in transactions with Iran.
“The Iranian regime has failed to prevent rampant money laundering and has continued to finance terrorist organizations and expand its ballistic missile program, showing a blatant disregard for U.S. sanctions and the integrity of the international financial system,” Rubio said. “Iranian access to U.S. dollars or the U.S. financial system, whether direct or indirect, will only further support these threatening and destabilizing activities.
“Rather than helping Iran circumvent existing U.S. law, the Obama administration should be increasing pressure on Iran’s leaders to halt their provocative behavior and threats against Israel,” Rubio continued. “The administration needs to stop moving the goalposts with Congress and the American people on this vital issue of national security. This legislation makes clear that helping the Iranian regime indirectly gain access to U.S. dollars is strictly prohibited and punishable by law.”
Rubio ramped up his opposition to Obama after a Senate committee hearing on Tuesday, saying he would put a hold on any Treasury appointment until the matter is clear.
In the meantime, other Republicans from Florida are also expressing their opposition to Obama on lowering the currency sanction with Iran. On Wednesday U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, the chairman of the U.S. House National Security Subcommittee and who is running for Rubio’s seat, rounded up almost 20 other congressional Republicans in sending Lew a letter on Wednesday demanding answers on what the Treasury’s plans are with Iran and currency.
“Facilitating Iran’s access to global markets is not required under the nuclear agreement; this is a gratuitous concession,” DeSantis said. “It appears that the more Iran misbehaves, the more willing the Obama Administration is to concede to the demands of the Iranian regime. I look forward to Secretary Lew’s prompt response and believe that the Obama Administration must immediately reconsider this short-sighted policy change that will undermine antiterrorism sanctions and be a boon to Tehran.”
Besides DeSantis, who organized the letter, two other Florida Republicans signed it: U.S. Reps. Bill Posey and Ted Yoho.
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