April 23, 2024

With Israel and Iran on the Brink, Congress Doubles Down on War Path in the House

Despite trading strikes on each other’s soil, Iran and Israel may have narrowly avoided further escalation, for now. This is a relief for everyone who wants to avoid a devastating war for the United States, the people of Iran and all of the peoples of the region.

Unfortunately, Congress is exploiting recent tensions to jam through a series of hawkish approaches toward Iran and the Middle East as a whole, including legislation to push forward a ban on U.S. travel to Iran and a package that provides billions to send weapons to Israel and an expansion of broad Iran sanctions.

Iran Travel Ban Passes the House

Buried in the news last week, the House of Representatives passed a bill that encourages the State Department to invalidate U.S. passports for travel to Iran. We oppose any effort to halt Iranian Americans and Iranian nationals from traveling to Iran, which is vital for so many members of our community to maintain connections with the ones they love.

While most Iranian Americans who travel to Iran do so on an Iranian passport, the passage of this bill risks imposing significant new burdens and begins to criminalize an act that is extremely common for our community. Many House Democrats raised objections to the travel ban language, and sought to remove it in committee, but were ultimately unsuccessful with Republicans in the majority and subsequent pressure to pass any Iran legislation after tensions with Israel flared.

We are committed to blocking the travel ban legislation from passing the Senate and becoming law, and are holding meetings and briefings on Capitol Hill as well as organizing grassroots actions to ensure no one is barred from traveling to see their loved ones.

More Weapons to Israel and Sanctions for Iran Poised to Be Signed into Law

Also of deep concern, the House passed its foreign aid bill that provides Israel with billions of dollars for offensive weaponry and expands broad sanctions against Iran. The Iran sanctions in the bill include the SHIP Act and MAHSA Act, both priorities of AIPAC. While the MAHSA Act is largely symbolic, the SHIP Act significantly expands oil sanctions while providing limited waiver authority to the President and was opposed by NIAC. Coming amid a devastating famine in Gaza and inflamed tensions between Israel and Iran, it’s shameful that Congress is focused on keeping weapons flowing unconditionally to fuel the war in Gaza while imposing more failed sanctions on Iran.

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