December 01, 2015

Manchin, Kirk and Rubio Lead Bipartisan Resolution to Reinforce Iran Sanctions by State and Local Governments

Washington, D.C. – As international inspectors prepare to release what’s likely to be a controversial “final assessment” of Iran’s nuclear weapons efforts, U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) today introduced a bipartisan measure, S.Con.Res. 26, to reaffirm congressional support for continued sanctions by state and local governments in the United States against Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism, human rights violations, and other illicit behavior.

Known as a concurrent resolution, this Senate measure reiterates that U.S. law authorizes state and local governments to enact sanctions against Iran’s illicit activities and entities that do business with Iran.  The measure also reaffirms that the nuclear deal with Iran, known formally as the “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” does not affect the legal authority of states and local governments to enact sanctions against Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism and human rights violations.

“Iran is the world’s largest sponsor of terror, and we must do everything in our power to ensure that this regime is not able to use the money that it will receive through the Iran nuclear deal to continue its deplorable terrorist actions,” Senator Manchin said. “This commonsense, bipartisan resolution reaffirms Congress’s full support for individual states and local governments to continue imposing strict sanctions on Iran.”

“With this bipartisan measure, Congress stands with the 30 states and the District of Columbia that have imposed sanctions against Iran’s threatening behavior,”Senator Kirk said. “As the Iran nuclear deal hands over more than $100 billion to the world’s biggest state sponsor of terrorism, it’s critical for the United States to do all it can to prevent Iran from escalating its support for terrorism, militancy, and human rights abuses in the Middle East and beyond.”

“As Speaker of the Florida House, I led our state's push to stand with Israel by requiring the Florida pension program to divest from companies linked to the terrorist regime in Iran. As the first state to enact such legislation, Florida pioneered what became a national effort to divest from entities with any link to the brutal Iranian regime, denying it access to more money that would be used to develop nuclear weapons, sponsor terrorism and commit human rights abuses.

“President Obama’s fundamentally flawed nuclear deal potentially jeopardizes the strong stances states have taken to divest from Iran. This resolution makes clear that Congress wants to give states the opportunity to take a stand and send the message that this is not Florida’s, or any other state’s deal with Iran; it’s just the president's flawed deal. With this resolution, states will be able to stop their pension funds from filling Tehran’s coffers,” said Senator Rubio.

In addition to the District of Columbia, 30 states have imposed Iran-related divestment sanctions:  Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Washington.

11 of these states have also enacted laws or policies to prohibit state or local governments from awarding contracts to firms that do business with Iran: California, Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and South Carolina.

The text of the Senate measure is available online.

A companion measure in the U.S. House of Representatives was also introduced today by Congressmen Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.), Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), and Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.).


(1) Iran-sponsored terrorists and militants are responsible for the death of more than 700 Americans. 

  • During the 1980s, Iran-backed attacks killed over 290 Americans in Lebanon, including 13 from Illinois:  GySgt Alvin Belmer, USMC; LCpl David D. Gay, USMC; CAPT Paul A. Hein, USMC; PFC Melvin D. Holmes, USMC; Cpl Joseph R. Livingston, USMC; Sgt John A. Phillips, Jr., USMC; PFC Eric A. Pulliam, USMC; Cpl Gary R. Scott, USMC; 1st Lt William S. Sommerhof, USMC; LCpl Eric D. Sturghill, USMC; Cpl Eric R. Walker, USMC; James F. Lewis; and William R. Sheil. 
  • During the 2000s, Iran-backed attacks killed hundreds of Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan.  As General Joseph Dunford, incoming Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Senators on July 9, 2015:  “I know the total number of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines killed by Iranian activities [in Iraq and Afghanistan], and the number has been recently quoted as about 500.”

(2) In response to a request from Senator Kirk, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) recently produced a research memo laying out public estimates of how much Iran annually spends to support terrorism and militancy.  (See CRS memo and related chart.)  CRS found that Iran funds Hezbollah with $100-$200 million, Hamas with “tens of millions,” and Syria’s Assad regime with $6-$15 billion annually. 

(3) Iran also has wrongfully imprisoned American citizens Pastor Saeed Abedini, Amir Hekmati, Robert Levinson, Jason Rezaian and Siamak Zamazi.