Senate Democrats Introduce Comprehensive Legislation that Addresses the COVID-19 Situation in Iran

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and seven other Senators introduced comprehensive legislation that aims to outline a role for the U.S. in international efforts to contain and fight against the COVID-19 global pandemic and to ensure that U.S. sanctions do not interfere with humanitarian relief and medical equipment for the people of Iran.

The language of the COVID-19 International Response and Recovery Act (CIRRA) legislation reflects recommendations PAAIA laid out in its letter to the administration in March. PAAIA has also been in touch with the House Foreign Affairs Committee regarding policy proposals released early last month by Senator Menendez and Representative Engel (D-NY) on how to address the humanitarian crisis in Iran due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

CIRRA provides an additional $9 billion in funding to help support existing international efforts to combat the global pandemic and calls for action from both the U.S. and Iranian governments. For the U.S. government, the legislation calls on the clarification of what is permitted and prohibited under U.S. law and the expansion of humanitarian exemptions under General License E, as well as the issuance of guidelines on delivering medical supplies to Iran. For the Iranian government, the legislation requests the release of all politically held dual nationals from Iranian prisons and acceptance of U.S. offers of assistance to the Iranian people.

As the world struggles to contain the COVID-19 epidemic, all countries must come together to prevent a human catastrophe of enormous proportions. PAAIA urges the Senate to take on this legislation for a vote and for Senators to sign on as co-sponsors. PAAIA commends Senator Menendez for introducing this important legislation and thanks Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Chris Coons (D-DE), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Ed Markey (D-MA) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) for joining the legislation as original co-sponsors.

May 8, 2020

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