GOP Presidential Candidate Tim Scott Works to Freeze $6 Billion in Iranian Assets Amidst Hamas Attack on Israel

Grayson Larkspur

Updated Thursday, October 12, 2023 at 4:18 AM CDT

GOP Presidential Candidate Tim Scott Works to Freeze $6 Billion in Iranian Assets Amidst Hamas Attack on Israel

Senator Tim Scott, the only GOP presidential candidate with federal sway over a U.S. response to Hamas' recent terrorist attack on Israel, is taking action to freeze $6 billion in Iranian assets held in Qatar. These assets were unlocked as part of a prisoner swap in September, but Scott believes that restricting access to these funds could help curb Iran's influence.

As the ranking member of the Senate Banking Committee, Scott is working on a bill that not only freezes the $6 billion in Iranian assets but also requires the Treasury Department to study Iranian assets worldwide. This legislation would need 60 votes in the Senate and a majority on the Banking Committee to pass.

Scott is not alone in his efforts. Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown, who has previously worked closely with Scott on legislation, supports freezing the Iranian assets. In fact, a growing number of senators from both parties are pushing to block Iranian access to the $6 billion. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Tom Cotton plan to pass a bill blocking the release of these funds on the Senate floor.

The suspicions that Iran may have played a role in the recent attack on Israel have further fueled the calls to withhold the funds. U.S. officials are currently investigating whether Iran directly approved Hamas' attacks. Scott believes that Iran and Hamas have been coordinating to some extent.

In addition to freezing the assets, Senator Brown plans to investigate how the Hamas attack was financed and if cryptocurrency was involved. Senator Elizabeth Warren also shares concerns about the use of cryptocurrency to fund terrorist organizations like Hamas.

The Biden administration, however, maintains that Iran has not accessed any of the funds yet and that the money would be available only for humanitarian transactions involving items such as food, medicine, and agricultural products. Some Democrats, including Senator Bob Casey, support keeping the funds frozen until Iran's role in the attack is established.

As the situation unfolds, it is clear that there is a high level of support within the Democratic Party for Israel, especially as the brutality of Hamas becomes increasingly evident. At least 1,200 Israelis and 22 Americans have lost their lives since the surprise attack, while reports suggest that 900 people have died in Gaza following Israeli airstrikes.

The release of the $6 billion in funds has raised concerns among Republicans and Democrats alike. Senator Tammy Baldwin, who is facing reelection next year, has called for the freeze of the Iranian assets until there is full confidence that Iran did not play a role in the terrorist attacks on Israel. Other vulnerable Democratic senators, such as Jon Tester, Jacky Rosen, Joe Manchin, and Catherine Cortez Masto, have also urged the Biden administration to reverse course.

It remains to be seen how the legislation to refreeze the Iranian funds will progress. Senator Cotton plans to seek unanimous consent for the bill, while the Biden administration defends its decision to transfer previously frozen assets to Iran, stating that there is no direct proof of Iran's involvement in the attacks on Israel.

The $6 billion in Iranian assets, originally frozen under the Trump administration in 2018, has become a contentious issue in light of the recent events. As the investigation into Iran's role continues, senators from both parties are working to ensure that these funds do not end up in the wrong hands.

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