Floor Remarks by Senator Chuck Grassley (R- Iowa) “‘Strict Oversight’ of Iranian Access to Billions of Dollars” – Wednesday, November 29, 2023
Watch video of speech or read full transcript below.
If the Biden administration decides to allow a terrorist state access to billions of dollars, then, at bare minimum, the Biden administration must perform exceedingly strict oversight of how that money is used.
It’s pretty simple. Commonsense requires considering the attendant risk that this money gives to Iran. The Biden administration has created a serious problem that needs strict oversight.
More than all that, the Congress must also have the same regard of how the executive branch conducts its business in regard to this billions of dollars.
Today, I have a non-point example to present to my colleagues.
In September of this year, the Biden administration’s State Department provided Iran access to $6 billion as part of a prisoner swap agreement.
Then, in mid-October, the United States and Qatari governments decided to refreeze these funds due to the October 7 Hamas terrorist attack on Israel.
Hamas, an Iranian-funded terrorist organization, as we all know attacked Israel and killed civilians, seized hostages and destroyed towns.
Hamas committed unspeakable acts of terror and evil not seen since the Nazis towards Jewish people.
On October 12 of this year, Secretary of State Blinken addressed the international media and, in that address, claimed that the State Department has “strict oversight of the funds and retains the right to freeze them,” meaning, freeze the $6 billion.
There better be strict oversight. The taxpayers ought to require that, exceedingly strict oversight.
I now ask, what did the Secretary of State mean when he said “strict oversight”?
I don’t want lip-service from the secretary, I want details.
On October 12, 2023, I wrote a letter asking exactly that: What are the details?
My letter also sought to know what government agencies are involved in this alleged oversight.
What are the roles of the respective agencies in this oversight?
What enforcement mechanisms are in place to ensure compliance?
How will the State Department be able to punish Iran if conditions of this $6 billion are violated?
I also asked what components of the State Department are responsible for conducting this oversight, among other questions.
Almost a month past the two-week deadline to respond, the State Department did finally send me a letter. That letter was very incomplete and a very insufficient response that failed to answer the essential question, using [Blinken’s] words, what does “strict oversight” mean? The letter didn’t deal with that, and it seems to be a pretty simple question.
The State Department’s letter meekly said, “The U.S. will have full visibility and will exercise strict oversight as to how and when the funds are used.”
This isn’t an answer. This is lip-service.
We’re talking about billions of dollars accessible by a terrorist regime.
So, as you would expect Senator Grassley to do, on November 21, I sent a follow-up letter to Secretary Blinken informing him of his failed response and then, again, renewing my request for Congress and the American people to know and understand what the secretary meant by the words he used, “strict oversight.”
He said it publicly, in an international setting.
And the secretary has an obligation to explain what “strict oversight” is.
If the State Department is engaging in strict oversight, then say what it is and give us, the Congress, the details of that.
The taxpayers deserve to know exactly how the Biden administration plans to ensure proper oversight of $6 billion to Iran.
This senator obviously won’t stop demanding answers, especially when it comes to a terrorist regime’s access to billions of dollars that the United States has something to say about.