Late yesterday evening, the House of Representatives passed my legislation to prohibit cash payments to Iran, the number one state sponsor of terrorism.The legislation will prevent the Obama Administration’s dangerous actions from ever happening again. With this bill – there will be no more secret planes full of cash to fund Iran’s terrorism.
As you might recall, the President announced in January that the United States would pay Iran $1.7 billion to settle a dispute involving a 1979 arms deal. At no time did the Administration even mention that it was seeking a settlement to this case. The payment came out of the blue. And from the start, Iranian military commanders were calling it ransom.
After months of my pressing as Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, the Obama administration finally admitted it ignored concerns from the Justice Department – and longstanding U.S. policy against paying ransom – and paid a total of $1.7 billion in cash to the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. We now know the release of Americans held hostage in Iran was specifically linked to these pallets of cash.
Not surprisingly, Iran has since taken several more Americans hostage.
Now the Administration claims cash was the only way. But that’s simply not true. It could have permitted a transaction to go through the international financial system. Just this week, the Treasury Department confirmed that other recent transactions with Iran were conducted through traditional banking channels.
Instead, the Administration chose to deliver $1.7 billion in untraceable assets to Iran’s radical regime.
That’s particularly galling when the international body charged with developing policies to combat money laundering and terrorism financing tells us that ‘physical transportation of currency’ is ‘one of the main methods used to move criminal assets, launder money and finance terrorism.’
I believe that is why Iran wanted the cash – to support terrorism. It’s not a coincidence to me that this desire for cash comes just as my Committee's legislation to crack down on banks that finance Hezbollah is having an impact. Iran and its proxies need cash. And this Administration gave it to them.
My legislation has two core elements. One, it prohibits future cash payments – for any reason – to Iran. And two, it demands transparency and advance notification of any future settlements related to the U.S.-Iran Hague Tribunal so that the Congress is not surprised again.
My legislation poses a fundamental question. Are we comfortable providing Iran—the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, that’s fueling a blood bath in Syria—with billions of dollars in cash that they can turn around and funnel to the Assad regime, to Hezbollah, and to Hamas?
The answer to that question is a resounding no. As Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, national security is my top priority. I'll continue to fight when it's endangered.
News for September 16-23, 2016
||Chairman Royce's Anti-Poaching Legislation Heading to the President
The Senate and House have now both passed Rep. Royce's H.R. 2494, the Global Anti-Poaching Act, which heads to the President's desk to be enacted into law.
Rep. Royce’s bill can’t come at a more critical time. This week marked both National Elephant Appreciation Day and World Rhino Day. Elephants and rhinoceroses are some of the primary targets for poachers. With rhino horns selling for tens of thousands of dollars a pound, wildlife traffickers have created one of the most lucrative black markets in the world – worth an estimated $10 billion annually. Criminals, gangsters, and even terrorists are taking advantage of this cash to fund their deadly operations. These animals are killed on such a large scale that extinction is almost certain if current trends continue. According to a report from the Great Elephant Census, elephant populations in certain areas of Africa “have plummeted by more than 75% in the past ten years.”
||Rep. Royce Meets with California's Car Dealers Association
The California New Car Dealers Association visited Rep. Royce this week in Washington to discuss challenges local dealerships face. Members of the Association are primarily engaged in the retail sale and lease of new vehicles, and also engage in automotive service, repair and part sales. California's car dealerships employ 135,000 Californians and sold over 2,822,250 cars last year alone!
|House Votes to Ban Cash Payments to Iran
|The excerpt below is from an article in the Washington Examiner that can be read here.
The House passed legislation late Thursday that would prohibit the federal government from making any cash payments to Iran, in protest of President Obama's recently discovered decision to pay Iran $1.7 billion in cash in January.
And while the White House has said Obama would veto the bill, 16 Democrats joined with Republicans to pass the measure, 254-163.
Obama announced the huge payout to Iran months earlier, and said it was part of a settlement for a decades-old transaction for U.S. military equipment that was never finalized.
But officials only recently admitted that the first installment of that payment was delayed in order to ensure Iran released four U.S. hostages, and that all three installments were paid in cash.
Those facts outraged Republicans, who said the transaction was effectively a ransom payment to ensure the return of the hostages, in violation of U.S. policy. They also said giving Iran $1.7 billion in cash would make it easier for Iran to fund acts of terrorism abroad.
The bill, from House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, R-Calif., is explicitly aimed at "prohibiting future ransom payments to Iran," a move Royce said is needed to rein in the Obama administration and future governments.
"It is not in the interest of the United States to have the regime have cold, hard cash," Royce said during the floor debate on his bill. He said Obama's own Justice Department said it was worried about the optics of the payment.
"Why? Because when you do so, you can expect to get more of the same kind of action from a state like Iran," he said. Royce said Iran has already taken new U.S. hostages, actions that show the U.S. may have created a perverse incentive for Iran.
"Why ignore your own lawyers?" Royce added of the administration's decision to ignore the Justice Department.
Read more here.
|Royce Supports Better ID Theft Protections
|This week, Rep. Royce voted for the Social Security MAIL Act to require the Social Security Administration to remove Social Security Numbers from mailings when their use is unnecessary. The legislation also requires the Administration to justify its continued use of SSNs on mailings where it has stated that the inclusion of a SSN is necessary. Almost half a million complaints of identity theft were reported in 2015, an increase of more than 150,000 from 2014. Many of these incidents arose from mail theft, a crime on the rise in Southern California that Rep. Royce is actively fighting against. During the same year, the government sent about 233 million documents that contained full SSNs on approximately 1,000 different types of notices. The legislation that Rep. Royce voted for will cut down on these mailings and reduce incidences of identity theft.