Florida’s two U.S. senators–Republicans Marco Rubio and Rick Scott–are championing U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst’s, R-Iowa, and U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz’s, R-Fla., “Preventing Underhanded and Nefarious Iranian Supported Homicides (PUNISH) Act.”
The bill would “enforce U.S. sanctions on the Iran Regime until the Secretary of State certifies to Congress that the Iran regime has not supported any attempt or activity to kill a U.S. citizen, former or current U.S. official, or an Iranian living within the United States.” The proposal would also “codify the Trump administration’s ‘maximum pressure sanctions on Iranian government officials, its financial sector, and other sectors including Iran’s energy industry” and “prohibit the lifting of sanctions on Iran, including those that President Biden would want 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.”
It is insane to consider lifting sanctions on a murderous regime to begin with, but to do so while it is actively planning to kill our citizens is even more ridiculous. The Biden Administration must recognize that Tehran is not a worthy negotiating partner, and it does not deserve sanctions relief,” Rubio said as he threw his support behind Ernst’s bill.
At the end of last week, Scott sent a letter to President Joe Biden calling on him to “direct the Department of Justice to prosecute the president of the Iranian regime, Ebrahim Raisi, and bring him to justice for his crimes, including his plots to assassinate American officials.”
In the letter to Biden, Scott slammed Raisi’s recent speech to the UN.
“This week, shortly before you addressed the United Nations General Assembly, Ebrahim Raisi, the Iranian regime’s president, spoke to the Assembly. Despite the fact that my colleagues and I previously urged you to bar Raisi from entering our country, you allowed him in anyway. At the General Assembly, Raisi spent the better part of 40 minutes criticizing freedom-loving countries, like the United States. He insisted that Iran is a model of human rights, even as his regime is killing demonstrators who are protesting the unjust death of Mahsa Amini,” Scott wrote. “As you know, while deputy prosecutor of Tehran, Raisi served on a Death Commission which sentenced approximately 5,000 prisoners to death, including women and children, without the right to appeal or a fair trial. Throughout his time in government, he engaged in international crimes including extrajudicial prosecution, torture and execution. Because of his crimes, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned Raisi in 2019, and in 2021 the U.S. State Department followed suit.
“Then, just this year, the U.S. Department of Justice shockingly revealed the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) plotted to assassinate U.S. officials on American soil. One IRGC plot to kill former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and former U.S. National Security Advisor, John Bolton, began just two months after Raisi took office as president. Further reports have surfaced showing that the IRGC has been plotting a similar assassination against former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo,” Scott added.
“In the face of these gravely disturbing reports, your administration ignored the wishes of so many Americans and allowed Raisi entrance to America and a stage to spread his lies to the world. You could have arrested him and held him accountable for his abuses, but you looked the other way. When you could have stood up for security and freedom, and prosecuted Raisi for his crimes, you floundered. Fortunately, it is not too late to reverse course and deliver justice to all those he has wronged,” Scott continued. “The protests in Iran are continuing, and the Iranian people are standing up for civil liberties and basic rights. The regime continues to support terrorist cells throughout the world, destabilize the region, threaten our ally, Israel, and do harm to Americans. Raisi is a danger to us all. I urge you to use the powers of the Department of Justice to prosecute Raisi and bring him to justice for his crimes.Thank you for your consideration of this important matter.”
Waltz reeled in more than 20 co-sponsors, including Florida Republican U.S. Reps. Kat Cammack, Mario Diaz-Balart, Carlos Gimenez, Brian Mast, John Rutherford and Maria Elvira Salazar. The bill was sent to the U.S. House Foreign Affairs; Judiciary; Financial Services; Oversight and Reform; and the Ways and Means Committees.
Rubio and Scott are among the 26 Republican senators co-sponsoring Ernt’s bill. The proposal was sent to the U.S. Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee.
The Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) Action, Christians United for Israel (CUFI) Action, the America First Policy Institute, the Republican Jewish Coalition and Heritage Action are backing the proposal. With Democrats controlling both chambers of Congress, the bill is not expected to garner much momentum on Capitol Hil.
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