Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is throwing his support behind House conservatives’ efforts to block the Biden Administration from lifting sanctions on Iran — meeting with Republicans on Wednesday to unveil the Maximum Pressure Act.
Pompeo huddled with members of the Republican Study Committee — led by RSC Chairman Jim Banks (R-Ind.) — to introduce new legislation which looks to codify the sanctions issued by the Trump administration unless Iran meets the demands laid out by Pompeo in 2018.
The bill demands under the threat of economic penalty to oversee Tehran’s nuclear activity, stops Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon, ends Iran’s proliferation of ballistic missiles, calls for the release of American prisoners and ends support for designated terrorist groups.
Pompeo took aim at the Biden administration for engaging in talks about reentering the Iran nuclear deal, which the Trump administration withdrew from in 2018, arguing lifting the sanctions would reward bad actors. During his tenure as Secretary of State, Pompeo played a significant role in the implementation of roughly 1,500 sanctions on Iran.
“I remember some of you saying well, it won’t work if it’s just America alone. But of course it did — $123 billion of foreign exchange in 2018, $4 billion left for Iran. We took away 95 percent of the Iranian foreign exchange reserves in just two and a half years,” he said at a press conference with GOP lawmakers following the meeting.
“A pressure campaign, an effective one like we delivered, will continue to make the Iranians make difficult choices — hard choices about whether underwrite Hezbollah, underwrite to write the militias in Iraq, the Iranian backed militias there underwrite the Houthis — still a terrorist organization even if not still designated as such.”
Banks accused Biden of taking a “weak approach” on Iran, arguing the path they are taking emboldens adversaries.
“That’s why we are here today, to communicate to the administration that we will maintain sanctions on Iran and show our adversaries that if Joe Biden even temporarily lifts sanctions, we will reimpose them later,” he told reporters.
Pompeo — who is rumored to be weighing a 2024 presidential bid — is the latest of a string of potential presidential contenders including former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) to meet with the RSC, the largest conservative group in Congress in recent weeks.
Former Vice President Mike Pence, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) are also expected to address the group in coming months.