KENNEDY: Congress Must Step In To Stop More Money From Going To Iran
Money in the hands of zealous dictators only brings the world misery. This is especially true of Iran.
According to several reports, Iran helped plan and fund Hamas’ attack on Israel. This behavior wasn’t new for the Iranian regime. Iran has funded terrorism for decades. That’s why so many Americans were shocked when President Biden unfroze $6 billion in Iranian assets in a recent prisoner swap. Everyone knew that money would bring nothing but harm to freedom-loving people, but we didn’t realize the pain would come so soon.
Fortunately, America had strings attached to that money. The Biden administration says Iran hasn’t yet received the money, and my Republican colleagues and I are working to ensure it never does. Iran is hoping, however, to return to a different source of no-strings-attached money: The International Monetary Fund.'
The IMF is a global economic organization with 190 member countries, including many of our adversaries. The IMF loans money to countries that find themselves in financial straits, among other things. Many countries fund the IMF, but the American taxpayers give the most. Under certain circumstances, the IMF can make general allocations to each member nation called Special Drawing Rights (SDRs). Technically, this transaction is a loan, but the interest charged is negligible and countries rarely pay back the loan. The president of the United States has to approve these allocations, but Congress only votes on distributions above a certain amount—a threshold the IMF and the Biden administration apparently love to dodge.
In 2021, President Biden approved the largest IMF allocation of SDRs in history, conveniently valued at $650 billion to narrowly avoid congressional scrutiny. This was designed ostensibly to help countries respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, but money is fungible. It played out just how you’d imagine.
Russia received $16.2 billion from the IMF and invaded Ukraine six months later. China received $38.3 billion for pandemic response but refused to allow the world to investigate the COVID-19 origins. Iran received $4.5 billion while promoting terrorism throughout the world and brutalizing protesters who sought equality for women.
The IMF’s stated mission is to “achieve sustainable growth and prosperity” around the world. Instead, it’s cutting checks to nations that want to dominate and pillage the global community. China isn’t helping the global economy supporting Russia in Ukraine, enslaving the Uyghur people, and covering up COVID. No one prospers in Iran while it funds terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah.
Yet some of my colleagues in Congress want to see the IMF cut another round of checks.
Days before Hamas attacked Israel, several of my colleagues in the Senate and dozens more in the House wrote a letter to President Biden asking him to approve another IMF distribution of SDRs worth $650 billion. If he approves this allocation, Iran could receive as much as $4.9 billion to fund terrorism, China could receive another $41.6 billion to menace Taiwan, and Russia could receive $17.6 billion to fund its war on Ukraine.
President Biden has made the mistake of approving IMF allocations once. Congress cannot stand by and let him do it again.
That’s why I introduced the No Dollars for Dictators Act. Under this bill, Congress must authorize every IMF allocation that would line the pockets of perpetrators of genocide and state sponsors of terrorism.
It’s difficult to imagine why the United States wouldn’t stop Iran from taking billions of American dollars to use against the safety and security of the American people. Iranian leaders saw the killing and kidnapping of innocent people in Israel, including dozens of Americans, and cheered. It was nauseating, but not surprising. Iran hates America and our allies.
Yet the Biden administration—from the 2021 IMF allocation to the $6 billion prisoner swap—continues to try to placate this vicious regime by bankrolling it.
Congress needs to have the authority to step in before the White House can rubber stamp the allocation of billions of dollars to America’s most enthusiastic, violent enemies. My colleagues should join me in ensuring that Congress has a say before terrorists and dictators get another dollar from the IMF.
This piece originally appeared at Newsweek.