on the hill

In reversal, Senate Foreign Relations to take up MAHSA Act Iran sanctions

Sen. Ben Cardin’s office had previously told activists he didn’t plan to take up the bill; the committee will also be voting on a series of other Iran sanctions bills next month

Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD)

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee announced on Thursday that it plans to take up the MAHSA Act alongside other measures to sanction Iran, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a reversal from previous plans by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), the committee’s chair.

Cardin’s office had told Iranian-American activists who had been advocating aggressively for the MAHSA Act, a sanctions bill targeting Iranian leadership, that he did not plan to take up the bill. He suggested to reporters that the committee would be putting together its own package of Iran sanctions legislation rather than taking up any of the various House-passed bills.

But the Foreign Relations Committee announced an April 16 business meeting during which the committee will consider a slew of sanctions measures including the MAHSA Act; the SHIP Act, which places new sanctions on those purchasing and processing Iranian oil, targeting China; the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad International Terrorism Support Prevention Act, which sanctions foreign supporters of the Palestinian terrorist groups; and the MISSILES Act, which aims to respond to the sunset of U.N. sanctions on Iran’s missile and drone programs by codifying the sanctions in U.S. law and demands an administration strategy on preventing proliferation.

The MAHSA Act and SHIP Act have both been passed by the House, as has a version of the Hamas and PIJ bill. A bill similar to the MISSILES Act, the FIGHT CRIME Act, has also passed the House.

The committee is also set to consider a resolution condemning Hamas’ use of sexual violence and a resolution calling for the immediate release of Evan Gershkovich, the Jewish Wall Street Journal reporter who has been detained in Russia for a year.

An Iranian-American activist who has been vocal on the MAHSA Act, who uses the X username @HopeIranian and the pseudonym Hope, told JI that she’s “truly honored and grateful” that Cardin scheduled the markup.

“This bill is extremely important today because it carries the voices of the Iranian youth who were mercilessly murdered by the Islamic Republic regime for wanting freedom and democracy after Mahsa Amini’s murder by the regime on 9/16/22,” she continued. “The MAHSA Act must pass Congress and be signed into law by our President to honor all those who have passed away and have stood up to dictators across the world for freedom and democracy.”

She urged the committee to take up the text of the House-passed bill.

Hope requested to remain anonymous out of fear of retaliation against herself and family members in Iran by Iranian agents.

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