Congress to vote on Justice for Victims of Iranian Terrorism bill

The House is expected to vote tomorrow, Oct. 1, on a bill that would require the Islamic Republic of Iran to pay an estimated $43 billion to victims of terrorism before the U.S. government would unfreeze Iranian government assets under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), otherwise known as the Iran nuclear deal.

The bill, the Justice for Victims of Iranian Terrorism Act, was incorporated into the National Defense authorization Act for 2016.

In presenting the bill on the floor of the House, Pennsylvania Republican Patrick Meehan released a video highlighting U.S. Navy diver Robbie Stethem and other Iranian victims.

“We’re putting our victims to the side if we enable these dollars to be returned to Iran without any attachment to them,” Meehan said.

“Look, these are Marines who died protecting our barracks, these are American citizens who were sitting in cafes in Israel, these are people who were hijacked in planes and murdered in cold blood after being tortured. It’s some small measure of accountability that [Iran] should be required to pay [these families] before the very money we now have some influence over is returned.”

Meehan has proposed the Twitter hashtag #NotOneCent for his effort.

Senators Pat Toomey (R, Pa) andMark Kirk (R, Ill) introduced companion legislation in the Senate today, S2086.

“Families of Americans killed by Iranian-backed terrorism have used U.S. laws to take Iran to court and lawfully win approximately $43.5 billion in unsatisfied damages, so if the United States fails to ensure Iran fully pays these judgments before Iranian terror financiers get over $100 billion in sanctions relief, we risk emboldening Iran and other state sponsors of terror to continue targeting and killing more Americans,” Kirk said.

Complete text of the Meehan bill, H.R. 3457, is here.

The Office of Management and Budget today issued a statement that it “strongly opposes” making Iran pay the terrorism claims, arguing that “obstructing implementation of the JCPOA would greatly undermine our national security interests.

President Obama will veto the bill if it makes it through to his desk, the OMB promised.