US Senator Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), the chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee

US Senate Announces Markup Hearing For MAHSA Act

Thursday, 03/28/2024

After months of stonewalling, US Senate Foreign Relations Committee has announced a formal markup hearing for the MAHSAAct, a bill that codifies sanctions against Iran’s leaders.

The bipartisan Mahsa Amini Human rights and Security Accountability Act (MAHSA Act) passed the House of Representatives with overwhelming majority in September 2023, but has not yet been moved forward for a vote in the Senate.

In December, Iranian-American activists said the Chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) was refusing to advance the motion. According to the Committee's website, the markup session will be held on Tuesday, April 16.

The MAHSA Act – which has 68 Republican and 60 Democrat cosponsors – and is supported by the National Union for Democracy in Iran (NUFDI), United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), was first introduced by Representatives Jim Banks (R-IN) and Eric Swalwell (D-CA) during the 117th Congress in January 2023, about four months into pro-democracy and anti-regime protests following the death of 22-year-old Iranian-Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini at the hands of Iran's hijab police. Her death sparked country-wide protests, better known as the Women Life Freedom movement, which challenged the regime and its religious authority like never before.

Essentially similar and a companion to the one passed in the House committee, the MAHSA Act will potentially commit the administration to report to Congress in 90 days after the date of the enactment and periodically thereafter, making determinations about whether certain existing sanctions apply to specified persons and impose the applicable sanctions.

The bipartisan bicameral move requires the executive branch to impose applicable sanctions on Ali Khamenei, his office and his appointees, along with President Ebrahim Raisi and his cabinet officials, as well as foundations and other entities affiliated with the Supreme Leader.

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