Bipartisan push in Congress aims to target corruption within Iranian government

Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON DC (NEXSTAR) – A bipartisan push in Congress aims to target corruption within the Iranian government. After the U.S. imposed new sanctions on the country, lawmakers are renewing their plan to apply even more pressure.

“These actions by Iran cannot go unanswered,” said U.S. Rep. David Kustoff (R-Tennessee).

After two tankers were attacked and a surveillance drone shot down, Kustoff said the U.S. needs something to show for them.

“We need to respond,” he said.

President Donald Trump ultimately slapped new sanctions on Iran’s supreme leader and his affiliates in retaliation for shooting down the U.S. drone.

“I think they’re playing with fire,” the president said.

FILE – Former U.S. attorney David Kustoff speaks with supporters at his victory party after he won the race in Tennessee’s 8th Congressional District on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016 in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Adrian Sainz).

But Kustoff and New Jersey Democrat Congressman Josh Gottheimer want to put an additional layer of pressure on the country.

The duo is sponsoring a bipartisan House resolution to build a list of Iranian oligarchs – people or companies they say are profiting off the Iranian people – and could be targeted by future sanctions.

“Their people are feeling the brunt of these sanctions the U.S. is imposing. The Iranian people want change within their own government. Ultimately, I hope that’s where the change comes from,” Rep. Kustoff said.

But the National Iranian American Council worries the legislation would only drive the corruption further underground by undermining the White House’s control of national security information.

While some members of Congress are demanding action, the council is urging de-escalation.

Statement from National Iranian American Council (NIAC):

“The Kustoff bill purporting to tackle Iranian corruption is similar to previous legislation that raised concerns for both the Obama and Trump administrations, which feared that the bill would undermine the White House’s control of national security information, pose a risk to intelligence gathering operations and drive Iranian corruption further underground. More broadly, the bill appears to be part of a drive to sanction away any diplomatic offramp with Iran at the very same time that the White House has taken us to the edge of war via its maximum pressure campaign. Rather than pile on to the Trump administration’s failing approach, Members of Congress should be urging de-escalation- including by advocating a return to compliance with the Iran nuclear deal.”

Statement from Congressman Gottheimer:

“Iran must cease its reckless and aggressive conduct, which has only increased tensions and further destabilized the region. In addition to being the world’s leading state sponsor of global terrorism, Iran continues to enrich corrupt, regime-connected officials back at home. Congress can send a strong message to Iran by passing this bipartisan legislation to shed light on the Khamenei regime’s corruption, distortion, and mismanagement of Iran’s economy.”

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

WATE 6 On Your Side Twitter