April 4, 2022
President Joe Biden (r) and Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (AP)
Congressional Republicans are spearheading a legislative effort to bar the Biden administration from lifting terrorism sanctions on Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as part of a new nuclear agreement with Tehran, according to a copy of a new bill obtained exclusively by the Washington Free Beacon.
Reps. Brian Mast (R., Fla.) and Scott Perry (R., Pa.) introduced on Monday the Preventing Terror Sympathizers from Appeasing Terrorists Act, a bill that would block the White House from delisting the IRGC from the Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO) list without congressional approval.
The bill was designed to stop the Biden administration from delisting the IRGC as part of a package of concessions to Iran written into the new nuclear accord, which is nearing completion and likely to include a provision that waives key sanctions on the IRGC, potentially allowing Iranian terrorists to more easily enter the United States, as the Free Beacon first reported on Friday.
Sanctions on the IRGC—which were first imposed by the Trump administration as part of its “maximum pressure” campaign on Iran—remain one of the final sticking points in talks. Iran is pressing the Biden administration to nix this designation, even as the IRGC actively plots the assassination of top Trump administration officials and wages attacks on U.S. forces in the region.
The administration’s bid to remove these sanctions is fueling opposition to the deal from both Democratic and Republican foreign policy leaders, who worry such a concession will embolden Iran’s global terrorism and spy operations. Carveouts in the deal that provide Russia with billions-of-dollars in revenue have also generated outrage among lawmakers.
The Mast-Perry bill is one of several pieces of legislation meant to force the Biden administration into consulting with Congress on the deal.
While the White House is required under a 2015 law to present any deal with Iran to Congress for approval, it has becoming increasingly clear the administration will bypass this law. A separate piece of bipartisan legislation introduced in the House last week and first reported by the Free Beacon would require the Biden administration to disclose how sanctions relief for Iran will boost the IRGC’s capabilities.
“Not only is President Biden blatantly circumventing the Constitution he swore to defend, but he’s also putting Americans at risk in an effort to appease terrorists,” Mast told the Free Beacon. “Since the president refuses to uphold his oath of office, we’re introducing this bill to prohibit him from making executive decisions when it comes to national security such as delisting known terrorist organizations.”
Language in the Mast-Perry bill states that the IRGC’s terrorism designation “may not be revoked or rescinded, except by a joint resolution of Congress.” While the House remains under narrow Democratic control, mounting opposition to the new accord on both sides of the aisle is likely to give the legislation a chance at passing.
The bill, which is co-sponsored by Reps. Mary Miller (R., Ill.) and Jeff Van Drew (R., N.J.), has been referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) for further consideration.
The Free Beacon reported last week that Democratic and Republican HFAC members emerged from a recent classified briefing on the deal with increasing skepticism. The possible removal of the IRGC’s terror designation is among the top concerns, according to congressional sources familiar with the matter.
A Republican-authored policy analysis circulating on Capitol Hill discloses that the removal of sanctions on the IRGC could “allow Iranian nationals linked to terrorism to enter and stay in the United States,” according to a copy of that memo.
“Removing the IRGC from the Foreign Terrorist Organization list is a non-nuclear related concession to Iran which would reward terrorist blackmail, allow Iranian nationals linked to terrorism to enter and stay in the United States, weaken law enforcement’s ability to go after those providing support or resources to the IRGC, and make it harder to hold those outside U.S. soil criminally accountable for helping the IRGC,” the analysis states.
Perry, an HFAC member, said the Biden administration’s focus on reaching a new nuclear deal endangers U.S. national security.
“When it comes to protecting Americans, President Biden just never fails to fail,” Perry said. “That’s why we need to ensure he can’t invite further aggression from terrorists through his inherent if not willful weakness.”
“It’s hard to believe you have to hammer home to a U.S. president that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is a foreign terrorist organization responsible for murdering Americans, but here we are,” he said.