WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, joined Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Representative Mike Waltz (R-Fla.) on an effort to enforce U.S. sanctions on Iran until the secretary of State certifies to Congress that Iran has not supported any attempt or activity to kill a U.S. citizen, a former or current U.S. official, or an Iranian living within the United States. The bill’s introduction comes on the very same day Iranian President Raisi is set to speak to the U.N. General Assembly in New York, accompanied by members of the IRGC, a U.S. designated foreign terrorist organization, which has persistently tried to kill U.S. citizens.
“For too long, there has been a glaring disconnect between the Biden Administration’s tireless pursuit of a nuclear deal and the Iranian regime’s continued threats against Americans and the region. The PUNISH Act seeks to close that gap,” said Senator Risch. “This legislation will rightly require the administration to address active and ongoing assassination plots against former U.S. officials before any deal to re-enter the JCPOA is made. Failure to do so would be an affront to U.S. national security interests.”
“It's hard to fathom that, after countless attacks on Americans, and multiple confirmed plots against U.S. officials, the Biden administration continues to cozy up to Iran in hopes of a mythical, so-called nuclear deal,” said Senator Ernst. “President Biden should not provide a dime of sanctions relief to the largest state sponsor of terrorism, which is actively trying to kill U.S. officials and citizens, at home and abroad. The PUNISH Act will ensure Iran continues to feel maximum pressure from the United States.”
“The Iran Regime is actively using its proxies to carry out attacks and threaten U.S. officials despite the Biden Administration’s ongoing efforts to negotiate a nuclear deal that will further enrich the world largest state sponsor of terrorism,” said Representative Waltz. “The Biden Administration has a duty to protect its citizens from the Iran Regime’s proxies who have already carried out an attack on Salman Rushdie, plotted an assassination against former National Security Advisor John Bolton. Maximum pressure sanctions must be retained against the Iranian Regime.”
The PUNISH Act, or Preventing Underhanded and Nefarious Iranian Supported Homicides Act, would codify the Trump Administration’s “maximum pressure” sanctions on Iranian government officials, its financial sector, and other sectors including Iran’s energy industry. It would also prohibit the lifting of sanctions on Iran, including those that President Biden wants to lift to re-enter the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – the Iran Nuclear Agreement – until the State Department can certify no assassination attempts or bounties are placed on current or former senior government officials for five years.
The PUNISH Act is cosponsored by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), John Thune (R-S.D.) and Ben Sasse (R-Neb.).
Text of the bill can be found here.