On Monday, a group of lawmakers introduced a bill to the House and Senate, seeking to permanently authorize a law that would enable the president to impose harsh economic sanctions on Iran. The bill, called the Solidifying Iran Sanction Act, was introduced by Rep. Michelle Steel (R-Calif.) and co-sponsored by Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The legislation aims to extend the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) of 1996, which is set to expire in 2026.
The ISA, which needs to be continuously renewed by Congress under a mandatory sunset provision, enables the U.S. executive branch to impose sanctions on Iran’s energy sector. This would cripple Iran’s attempts to procure a nuclear weapon, which Tehran has accelerated towards in recent years.
McCaul stated that the Iran Sanctions Act is “one of the most important tools in U.S. law to compel Iran to abandon its dangerous and destabilizing behavior.” He also stated that the bill takes a “long overdue step of striking the arbitrary sunset from the law so that sanctions will only be lifted if Iran stops its threatening behavior.”
Steel stated that Iran has “made clear it has no interest in participating in the international community or working towards peace.” She further stated that the “rogue state continues to make threats against democracy and actively sponsors terrorism around the world.” The Solidifying Iran Sanction Act aims to prevent Iran from possessing nuclear weapons and further jeopardizing global peace.
The legislation has received bipartisan support, with 24 lawmakers co-sponsoring the bill, including Rep. Susie Lee (D-Nev.). A companion bill will also soon be introduced in the Senate by Sens. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), and Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.).
Tensions between the U.S. and Iran have increased after Iranian-backed militia groups carried out rocket attacks against U.S. bases in Syria, and Tehran has provided explosive drones to Russia for use in Ukraine. The Biden administration has also failed to reach a deal reviving a nuclear deal with Iran. The talks were meant to ease sanctions on Iran in return for the Middle Eastern nation not developing nuclear weapons. However, with the deal effectively scrapped, United Nations atomic energy regulators have warned that Iran is enriching uranium at facilities to the capabilities needed to make a bomb.
The Pentagon has warned that Iran has enough material to develop a nuclear bomb within 12 days. Under the ISA, the president has the authority to impose restrictions on Iran’s energy industry, which makes up a significant share of the country’s GDP. Over the years, the authority has expanded to include other Iranian industries. The ISA is enforced by triggers that impose sanctions on firms that violate the law.
Congressional efforts to permanently extend the ISA have been introduced before but have yet to pass both legislative chambers. The Solidifying Iran Sanction Act introduced on Monday is supported by advocacy organizations, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies Action and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). AIPAC spokesperson Marshall Wittman stated that the Solidifying Iran Sanction Act is “an important bipartisan effort to solidify critical sanctions on the Iranian regime at a time when Tehran is dangerously advancing its nuclear program and targeting U.S. troops.”
In summary, the Solidifying Iran Sanction Act seeks to permanently extend the Iran Sanctions Act, which enables the U.S. executive branch to impose sanctions on Iran’s energy sector to prevent the Middle Eastern nation from developing nuclear weapons. The bill has received bipartisan support and is backed by advocacy organizations.