The Corner

The Senate Debate Over U.S. Aid to Iran (Yes, Iran)

Speaking on the Senate floor yesterday, Senator Jon Kyl noted that during last year’s presidential campaign, Barack Obama favored imposing sanctions on gasoline sales to Iran as a way to persuade the ruling mullahs to re-think their nuclear ambitions. Kyl added:

Indeed, I think the President is exactly right about that. I know of no disagreement with that proposition. I also think there would be no disagreement with the proposition that U.S. taxpayers should not be supporting Iran’s energy sector. As a result, I have offered or I will be offering this amendment No. 634 that does exactly that. It says very simply: That none of the funds made available in this appropriations legislation, can go to companies helping Iran either import or export energy or energy-related goods.

It also does give the President the authority to waive the provision if he deems it necessary for a valid national security reason.

Two quick points for colleagues who may say: “Well, of course, we are not going to allow any of this money to go to companies that provide this kind of relief to Iran’s energy sector.” I would note two examples. Senator Lieberman and I sent a letter to the Export-Import Bank last October because the bank gave $900 million to loan guarantees to a company that was exporting gasoline to Iran. When we asked the bank whether it thought the taxpayers should be funding those kinds of benefits to Iran, one of the points raised in the response to me, one that was, by the way, rather indirect in answering the question I asked was: “The Ex-Im Bank generally is prohibited from taking foreign policy determinations into account when making credit decisions pursuant to its Charter.”

Well, of course, those are the kinds of considerations the American taxpayers would want to be taken into account. I would also note, on Monday, the Wall Street Journal noted that several of our colleagues from the other body wrote to the Secretary of Energy concerning a purchase of crude oil from another company doing business in Iran’s energy sector. In this case, the company is named Vitol, a Netherlands trading firm that was fined $17.5 million after a jury convicted the company for criminal misdeeds related to the oil-for-food scandal.

Obviously, the U.S. Government should not be doing business with a company such as that.

Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that a piece from [FDD Senior Fellow] Orde Kittrie and carried, I believe, in the Wall Street Journal, be printed in the Record at the end of my comments. …

I would hope when my colleagues have an opportunity to vote on this amendment, they will agree that ensuring the appropriate use of American taxpayer money is important, it is one of our obligations. We agree with the President that is the kind of thing we can do to put some pressure on Iran, and as a result, we should not be sending our money to companies that would be supporting the energy sector in Iran.

Me: Yes, exactly. Iran’s militant Islamist rulers have been vowing “Death to America!” for three decades. They have ordered the slaughter of American servicemen in Beirut, at Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, and throughout Iraq. They are now supplying advanced weapons to the Taliban in Afghanistan. They have established a client state in Syria, and they use Hezbollah and Hamas as terrorist proxies.


Why would American legislators and policy makers provide American taxpayer dollars to assist them?


My column here on NRO this morning is on this same theme.

Clifford D. MayClifford D. May is an American journalist and editor. He is the president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a conservative policy institute created shortly after the 9/11 attacks, ...


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