Congresswoman Susan W. Brooks

Representing the 5th District of Indiana
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Brooks Leads Letter to Administration in Support of States’ Rights to Enforce Sanctions Against Iran

Sep 21, 2015
News Releases

WASHINGTON, D.C.— As the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), generally called the Iran nuclear agreement, goes into effect, 61 bipartisan Representatives from 25 states, led by Congresswoman Susan Brooks (R-IN), sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry to ensure that states are able to uphold their rights to impose and enforce restrictions against Iran.

“It is critical that we keep remaining sanctions on Iran at the state level, especially as federal sanctions begin to be waived,” Brooks said. “I’m concerned that this agreement may infringe upon the ability of states, like Indiana, to enforce state sanctions already in place. These sanctions ensure that state pension funds or taxpayer dollars won’t go towards funding Iranian terrorism or human rights’ abuses.”

The Administration claims that September 17th was the last opportunity under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act for Congress to disapprove of the JCPOA. Language in the Iranian nuclear agreement provides that the federal government will “actively encourage” states to lift state-level sanctions such as divestment and contracting restriction laws. Pension fund divestment measures have been passed in 30 states and the District of Columbia, and restrictions on government contracting have been enacted in 11 states. Many more states are interested in expanding their role to ensure that their pension funds or taxpayer dollars won’t go towards funding Iranian terrorism or human rights’ abuses. Indiana is one of only 11 states possessing both Iranian divestment policies and contract restrictions.

“We’re asking the Administration to clarify the intent of the measure and ensure compliance with the law,” Brooks continued. “Localities, like my home state of Indiana, that choose not to support the tyrannical regime in Tehran shouldn’t be unduly coerced or preempted into funneling taxpayer money to Iran. I’m encouraged that so many of my colleagues across the country have joined this effort, and we will continue to work against this agreement using all available measures.”

While the administration has acknowledged in testimony before Congress that this deal will not prevent states from carrying out existing sanctions, no official has yet to outline what specific steps or authorities the Administration plans to use to coerce states into JCPOA conformity.

The full text of the letter and a list of co-signers are included below.

Dear Secretary Kerry:

In reviewing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreement between Iran and six negotiating parties, finalized on July 14, 2015, we have become specifically concerned about measure #25 regarding individual state sanctions. This provision stipulates that “[i]f a law at the state or local level in the United States is preventing the implementation of the sanctions lifting as specified in this JCPOA the United States will take appropriate steps, taking into account all available authorities, with a view to achieving such implementation.”

Thirty states and the District of Columbia have passed pension fund divestment measures, and eleven have also enacted restrictions on government contracting. These statutes were passed with the explicit permission of both Congress and the executive through the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010, P.L. 111-195 (CISADA). The law specifically acknowledges that states requiring divestment from companies doing certain types of business in Iran or prohibiting procurement contracts with such companies are “not preempted by any Federal law or regulation.”

While you and others within the administration have acknowledged in testimony before Congress that this deal will not prevent states from carrying out existing sanctions, no official has yet to outline what specific steps or authorities the Administration plans to use to coerce states into JCPOA conformity. As Members of Congress representing states who either currently have or potentially may enact Iranian sanctions, we are concerned that any attempt by the administration to persuade states to lift their individual sanctions regime(s) would constitute a violation of both state sovereignty and the text of CISADA. As you know, a September 8th letter from 15 Governors to President Obama also expressed concern about what steps your Administration may take to attempt to implement measure #25.

With that in mind, we respectfully ask that you provide clarity to both congress and affected states by providing answers to the following questions:

  1. What specific steps will you use to actively encourage officials at the state or local level to lift sanctions and to refrain from actions inconsistent with the JCPOA?
  2. Does the Administration plan to levy punitive actions against states that choose either to not lift sanctions or enact new divestment or contracting measures?
  3. What “available authorities” is the Administration referring to in measure #25, and does this infer that the federal government will interpret individual state sanctions as infringing on the federal foreign affairs power or violating the Foreign Commerce Clause?
  4. Will states still be able to freely enforce all existing sanctions and implement new ones as long as they are in conformity with CISADA?

Iran’s intransigence is not limited to nuclear affairs alone, and our constituents have a right to demand that their state pension funds do not inadvertently fund terrorism and that their taxes won’t be awarded to companies that support a regime culpable in gross human-rights violations. The people of our nation have the legal right to stand up for American values by refusing to do business with Iran until they change their behavior on these important issues.

Thank you for your attention to this matter, and we look forward to your prompt response.

Sincerely,

Susan W. Brooks (R-IN), Peter Roskam (R-IL), Dan Lipinski (D-IL), Jeff Duncan (R-SC), Larry Buschon (R-IN), Luke Messer (R-IN), Michael McCaul (R-IN), Mike Turner (R-OH), David Joyce (R-OH), Cramer (R-ND), Sam Johnson (R-TX), Jim Renacci (R-OH), Daniel Webster (R-FL), John Culberson (R-TX), John Moolenaar (R-MI), Mia Love (R-UT), Gregg Harper (R-MS), Will Hurd (R-TX), Tom MacArthur (R-NJ), Rob Bishop (R-UT), Trey Gowdy (R-SC), Lynn Jenkins (R-KS), Ann Wagner (R-MO), Ryan Costello (R-PA), Pat Meehan (R-PA),  Brett Guthrie (R-KY), Joe Wilson (R-SC), Ted Yoho (R-FL), David Schweikert  (R-AZ), Jackie Walorski (R-IN), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Chris Stewart (R-UT), Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), John Ratcliffe (R-TX), Leonard Lance (R-NJ), Stephen Fincher (R-TN), Kay Granger (R-TX), Garrett Graves (R-LA), Diane Black (R-TN), Michael Burgess (R-TX), Robert Pittenger (R-NC), Todd Rokita (R-IN), Kevin Brady (R-TX), Reid Ribble (R-WI), Jason Smith (R-MO), Trent Kelly (R-MS), Keith Rothfus (R-PA), Pat Tiberi (R-OH), Martha McSally (R-AZ),  Mike Kelly (R-PA), Pete King (R-NY), Barry Loudermilk  (R-GA), Bob Dold (R-IL-10), Bill Johnson (R-OH), Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), Doug Lamborn (R-CO), Jeff Miller (R-FL), Dan Newhouse (R-WA), Bill Huizenga (R-MI), Lou Barletta (R-PA), and Todd Young (R-IN).