Ban Ransom Payments For Hostages

Originally Published in the Tampa Bay Times 9.6.2016

Since the conclusion of the Iran nuclear deal last year, Iran’s rulers have consistently rebuffed President Barack Obama’s efforts at engagement and continued to exploit his weakness. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has used the billions of dollars Iran received under the deal to increase military spending, advance Iran’s missile program and wreak havoc across the Middle East. Tehran has detained American sailors in violation of its international commitments, kidnapped a growing number of Americans and expanded its financing of terror, all with no repercussions. Instead, the mullahs have been rewarded, even securing a $1.7 billion payment from the Obama administration, including $400 million in cash flown in on a plane, which served as a poorly disguised ransom payment for American hostages.

Congress has a responsibility to act on this matter. If it does not, it would send a signal to America’s enemies that our government no longer takes seriously its longstanding refusal to pay ransom for hostages. That’s a disturbing thought. As a senator, I have worked to help many families whose loved ones have been taken hostage by foreign governments or terrorist groups. The No Ransom Payments Act will prevent this president or any future president from paying ransoms and ensure that American victims of Iranian terrorism are paid first, before the regime in Tehran can claim settlements.

This month, the House is expected to vote on a similar measure to prevent any such dangerous ransom payments in the future. This will be yet another opportunity for those misguided individuals who have supported the Iran deal in the past to acknowledge it is a mistake of epic proportions, built on lies, that will only enrich this terrorist regime in Iran and help pave the way for it to acquire nuclear weapons. The Senate must vote on the Iran ransom payment as well so we can finally begin to hold the administration accountable for its lies. This is a precedent-setting matter that I believe deserves the full attention of Congress this month.

To read the Op-ed in its entirety, please click here.

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