Calls from Capitol Hill lawmakers to freeze the $6 billion in Iranian funds reached through controversial negotiations increased this week.
Nearly 20 GOP senators are calling on the Biden administration to freeze the funds that were released to a Qatar account in exchange for five American prisoners last month.
Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., led a group of GOP senators on Tuesday, urging the administration to “limit Iran’s ability to provide support to Hamas.”
She blamed President Biden for sending Palestine over $730 million in aid since taking office through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees.
“And yesterday, we learned Hamas stole aid from that group,” Blackburn said. “I’ll be introducing legislation to halt all funding for them until Iran is expelled from the UN and investigated for violations.”
“We must permanently freeze the $6 billion ransom payment to Iran,” she added. “We must halt taxpayer dollars going to the Palestinians, and we must secure our own southern border, and we must stand with Israel.”
Meanwhile, Sens. Tom Cotton, R-Ark.; John Kennedy, R-La.; and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., linked arms to introduce legislation to also freeze the assets.
The bill — which senators are seeking a unanimous vote to pass — states “any statutory sanctions imposed with respect to Iran… that were waived, suspended, reduced or otherwise relieved pursuant to an agreement between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran… are hereby reinstated.”
“We have reams, reams of evidence that the regime that chants ‘death to America’ and ‘death to Israel’ puts its money where its mouth is,” McConnell said on the floor Tuesday morning.
Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., is also seeking to block the $6 billion in a bill he introduced Tuesday, which revokes the waiver granted by the Biden administration to release the frozen Iranian funds.
In September, the Biden administration announced it reached an agreement with Iran in which Iran would release five American citizens in return for the Biden administration issuing a waiver for international banks to transfer $6 billion in frozen Iranian money from South Korea to Qatar without fear of U.S. sanctions. Marshall’s bill seeks to revoke the waiver.
“Hamas is just the puppet, doing the dirty work of the puppet master — Iran,” Marshall said in a statement to Fox News Digital. “Blood is on Iran’s hands, their fingerprints are all over this attack.”
Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., and ranking member of the Senate Banking Committee, also unveiled his legislation on Tuesday. Scott is seeking unanimous consent on his bill, which would handicap the Treasury and State departments to relax U.S. sanctions on Iranian assets.
The U.S. has a “quiet agreement” with Qatar to block Iran from accessing the $6 billion in humanitarian aid amid Hamas’ terror attacks on Israel, sources familiar with the move told Fox News last week.
Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo met with House Democrats on Thursday. Sources familiar with the meeting told Fox News that Adeyemo told lawmakers that the U.S. has a quiet agreement with Qatar not to move any of the $6 billion in unfrozen money to Iran for an indefinite period.
A source present in the room told Fox News Digital that Adeyemo told congressional Democrats in that meeting that the U.S. has reached “quiet understanding” with Qatar not to move the money.
Over in the House, China Committee Chairman Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., led a bipartisan group of nearly 100 House lawmakers last Wednesday to urge President Biden to refreeze the $6 billion as well.
At least 1,400 have been killed in Israel and thousands wounded since Hamas launched a brutal surprise attack on the nation on Oct. 7.
Fox News’ Brooke Singman contributed to this report.