WASHINGTON (WJHL) — Sen. Marsha Blackburn is calling on the Biden administration to refreeze $6 billion in Iranian funds and cut Palestinian aid, which she says is ending up in the wrong hands.
Blackburn and several other Republican senators held a press conference Tuesday to renew their call for the administration to formally freeze the funds, more than a week after Hamas militants attacked Israel and killed more than 1,400 people, mostly civilians.
While the Biden administration says it has not found evidence that Iran was directly involved in the Oct. 7 attack, it is well known that Hamas is backed by Iran, which Blackburn called the world’s “largest sponsor of terrorism.”
“We know that Iran bankrolls Hamas, and yet it is perplexing why this administration refuses to issue a formal decision to freeze the $6 billion,” Blackburn said during the news conference.
In August, the Biden administration announced a plan to allow Iran to access $6 billion in frozen oil profits in exchange for the release of five American prisoners.
The deal also involved the release of five Iranian citizens held in the U.S.
Last week, the U.S. reached an agreement with Qatar to prevent Iran from accessing the funds for the time being, but it is short of a full refreezing of the funds.
Blackburn also announced plans to introduce legislation to halt funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees until Iran is expelled from the U.N. The senator said money intended to aid refugees is being used to “bolster Hamas.”
“We must permanently freeze the $6 billion ransom payment to Iran. We must halt taxpayer dollars going to the Palestinians,” Blackburn said.
Several other GOP senators spoke during the press conference, including Sens. Lindsey Graham, John Thune, Rick Scott, Steve Daines, Ted Budd, Pete Ricketts, John Cornyn, and Katie Britt.
Blackburn and Tennessee’s other U.S. senator, Bill Hagerty, have also signed onto legislation to freeze the $6 billion.