The House of Representatives passed legislation on Sept. 22 that would prohibit the U.S. government from making future cash payments to Iran.
The legislation is in response to a cash payment of $400 million that was made to Iran in January, Reuters reports. President Barack Obama's administration denies claims that the money was used as a ransom payment for the release of four American prisoners from the Middle Eastern country, which would be in violation of U.S. policy.
The cash payment to Iran was reportedly made to settle an arms deal made before the 1979 Iranian revolution. The Obama administration said it timed the payment to when the prisoners were being released.
“We took advantage of leverage that we felt we could have to make sure that they got out safely and efficiently,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said in August.
The legislation will prohibit cash payments to Iran by the U.S. government until the country certifies Iran is not a state sponsor of terrorism.
“It is not in the interest of the United States to have the regime have cold, hard cash,” said Republican House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, the author of the bill.
Republican lawmakers believe any cash payments made to Iran will be used to fund terrorism, The Washington Times reports.
Before the vote, the White House said Obama would veto the legislation.
The White House said the bill is “[trying to solve a problem] that does not exist.”
“The United States did not pay ransom to secure the return of our Americans from Iran,” it said. “This bill would benefit Iran, not the United States.”
The White House added that not being able to make payments to Iran would hurt U.S. taxpayers.
“This is an unprecedented restriction on the President’s claims settlement authority that would adversely affect our ability to resolve Tribunal claims on favorable terms to the U.S. taxpayer, as we did in January,” it said.
The House passed a bill Sept. 21 that would require public disclosure by the Treasury Department of Iranian leaders known assets, reports The Hill.
The Obama administration said it “could compromise intelligence sources and friends,” adding that the president would veto the bill.