Congressman Paul Cook

Representing the 8th District of California
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Rep. Cook Votes to Ban Future Ransom Payments to Iran

Sep 23, 2016
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) voted for HR 5931, Prohibiting Future Ransom Payments to Iran Act. The bill passed the House of Representatives on a bipartisan vote of 254-163.

The bill prohibits the United States government from making any cash payments to Iran until the President certifies Iran is not a state sponsor of terrorism. It states that the policy of the United States government is not to pay ransom or release dangerous prisoners for the purpose of securing the release of United States citizens taken hostage abroad. This bill also requires transparency on any future settlements with Iran to ensure they are not used to pay ransom.

In January, the President announced that the United States would pay Iran $1.7 billion to settle a dispute over an aborted arms sale that had dragged on since the radical clerics that rule Iran seized power in 1979. The White House initially rejected concerns that this settlement amounted to a ransom for the release of the American hostages and refused to answer questions from Congress.

In August, the Obama Administration admitted that it had secretly organized an airlift of $400 million in cash to Iran that coincided with the January release of four Americans detained in Tehran. Initially, senior U.S. officials denied any link between the payment and the prisoner exchange, but later a State Department spokesman told reporters that the U.S. would not allow Iran to take possession of the money until the American prisoners had been released.

Rep. Cook said, “This bill bans our government from giving any cash payment to Iran for any purpose. Since the ransom was paid, Iran has taken additional American hostages and continues to fund terrorist groups. This bill would put a stop to this dangerous practice which puts a price tag on every American abroad.”

A member of the House Natural Resources, Armed Services, and Foreign Affairs Committees, Cook served as an infantry officer and retired after 26 years as a Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps. During his time in combat, he was awarded the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts.