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on the hill

Bipartisan bill aims for sanctions on Iran’s supreme leader, president, senior officials

The legislation is led by Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) and supported by a bipartisan group of House members

Saverio Marfia/Getty Images

A new mural of Mahsa Amini is presented by artist Scott Marsh, on November 04, 2022 in Sydney, Australia.

A bipartisan sanctions bill reintroduced last week aims to impose sanctions on high-level Iranian regime officials in response to the killing of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini last year and the subsequent crackdown on protesters.

The MAHSA Act, named for the Iranian woman who died in custody after being detained by Iran’s Gasht-e-Ershad — known more commonly as the “morality police” — for an alleged violation of headscarf laws, was introduced last week by Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) and 18 co-sponsors from both parties.

The bill instructs the administration to determine whether U.S. sanctions can be applied to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, President Ebrahim Raisi and any member of their offices; any economic entities overseen by those offices that are involved in human rights abuses or terrorism and officials of those entities; and other Iranian state officials.

In a statement, Banks indicated that he’s uncertain the legislation will be able to be enacted into law in the current Congress, in which Democrats have control of the Senate, and under the current president. “Two years from now, Congress will be ready to work with a reasonable administration to hold Iran accountable,” Banks, who is mounting a run for Indiana’s open Senate seat in 2024, said.

“Regular Iranians like Mahsa Amini are being murdered and persecuted by the Iranian regime, but the Biden administration is still trying to cozy up to Iran’s senior officials so he can cut an even more disastrous nuclear deal,” Banks added. “Even European leaders have done more than the White House to hold Iran accountable for its human rights abuses. This is worse than Obama’s lead-from-behind diplomacy.”

The legislation is co-sponsored by 15 Republicans, Reps. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), Mike Waltz (R-FL), Claudia Tenney (R-NY), Joe Wilson (R-SC), Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL), Rob Wittman (R-VA), Randy Weber (R-TX), Pat Fallon (R-TX), Tom McClintock (R-CA), Greg Murphy (R-NC), Diane Harshbarger (R-TN), Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-WA), Michael Guest (R-MS) and Doug Lamborn (R-CO), and three Democrats, Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Eric Swalwell (D-CA) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL).

The bill had a total of 33 co-sponsors, all but one of them Republican, following at the end of the previous Congress, after its initial introduction in late October.

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