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Ernst, Blumenthal Lead Bipartisan Push to Defund Terrorism, Enforce Iranian Oil Sanctions

This morning, Iran seized another foreign oil tanker while transiting international waters, ramping up aggression in the region as U.S. sanctions go unenforced.

WASHINGTON — Iran’s oil sales remain a key revenue source for the regime to promote a destabilizing agenda and bolster terrorist groups who intend to harm the United States and our partners. Despite available funding from the Treasury Department, the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Office has not been empowered to seize Iranian oil and gas shipments. The HSI seizure program has not been able to conduct a seizure for two of the past three years the program has existed.

Due to Treasury’s failure to act, today, U.S. Senators Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) – members of the Senate Armed Services Committee – are demanding President Biden enforce much-needed sanctions on Iranian oil and gas shipments.  

In a letter to President Biden, the group of bipartisan senators write, “When HSI seizes and processes Iranian oil, 75% of seizure revenues are allocated to the U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund. It is unacceptable that a U.S. government program, which makes the United States and its allies safer, provides funds to remediate the victims of terrorism, and generates income for the United States in a cost-effective manner has been allowed to languish.

“The failure to support HSI’s Iranian oil seizure and disruption operations in FY22, despite available funds, is a policy choice that must be reversed.

“United States sanctions should be enforced to the fullest extent of the law. As Iranian oil sales continue to rise, and the IRGC continues to target U.S. citizens and servicemembers, including inside the U.S., it is imperative that we use all available government assets to limit the activities of the Iranian regime.”

Ernst and Blumenthal are joined by their colleagues Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

Read the full letter to President Biden here.