Joined by 13 House Foreign Affairs Committee Colleagues in Bipartisan Letter to President
Sherman and Poe Call on Treasury's Iran Sanctions Staff to be Deemed Essential
Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA) and Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX), respectively the Ranking Member and Chairman of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade, led 13 of their House Foreign Affairs Committee colleagues in a letter asking the President to deem all, or most, of the employees of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) as essential.
Due to the federal government shutdown, the Treasury Department has furloughed most of the employees enforcing sanctions on the Iranian regime. The Department has furloughed nearly all of the staff of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which implements a large portion of the U.S. government’s financial sanctions. OFAC is unable to effectively issue new sanctions guidance, issue new designations against individuals and entities enabling Iran, Syria, North Korea, and terrorist organizations, or investigate and penalize sanctions violators at this time.
“Nothing is more essential to national security than working to stop the Iranian nuclear weapons program,” said Sherman. “There are always difficult choices to make during a federal shutdown. We urge the President and Secretary Lew to deem most if not all of OFAC’s staff essential. For maximum U.S. leverage, the sanctions pressure must be kept on Iran especially as Hassan Rouhani attempts to present Iran’s government in a new light.”
The letter notes that the “Lapse of Appropriations Plan” issued by the Department of Treasury on October 1st, 2013 contains several core functions that are to continue during a shutdown, including a number of key sanctions enforcement and anti-terrorism finance activities.
The 15 House Foreign Affairs Committee Members who signed the letter were Brad Sherman, Ted Poe, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Albio Sires, Michael McCaul, Gerry Connolly, Paul Cook, Karen Bass, Tom Cotton, Juan Vargas, Randy Weber, Alan Lowenthal, Ron DeSantis, Ami Bera, and Steve Stockman.
A copy of the final letter is attached.