WASHINGTON (AP) — In an election-year broadside, the Republican-led House Foreign Affairs Committee approved legislation Wednesday to prohibit the United States from making cash payments to Iran and require that Congress be notified before any future claims settlements with Tehran are conducted.
Passage of the bill on a 21-16 vote comes a week after the Obama administration acknowledged it paid Iran $1.7 billion in cash earlier this year to settle a decades-old arbitration claim between the two countries.
An initial $400 million delivery of euros, Swiss francs and other foreign currency was delivered on pallets on Jan. 17, the same day Tehran agreed to release four American prisoners. The remaining $1.3 billion was paid in cash installments made on Jan. 22 and Feb. 5, administration officials said last week in a closed-door briefing for congressional staff.
Republicans have decried the payments as ransom, a charge the Obama administration has rejected. Citing Iran's status as a leading state sponsor of terrorism, Republicans also have contended the money will be used to finance terrorism around the world.