02.15.17

Senators Lankford, Fischer, Cruz, and Inhofe Introduce Bill to Provide Transparency over Taxpayer Funded Payments

WASHINGTON, DC – Senators James Lankford (R-OK), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Jim Inhofe (R-OK) today introduced the Judgment Fund Transparency and Terrorism Financing Prevention Act (S.386), which provides transparency and accountability for claims that are successfully litigated against the US government with monetary redress. The bill also prohibits taxpayer-funded payments to foreign nations that have state-sponsored terrorism. 

“Years ago, Congress gave the authority to the president to pay court-ordered payments to litigants without requesting each payment individually. But, after the Obama Administration used the federal Judgement Fund to pay $1.7 billion to Iran on the same day Iran returned four hostages, and they attempted to use the Judgement Fund to pay Obamacare subsidies to insurance companies—it is clear that the Judgement Fund needs more oversight. The Judgement Fund was never intended to be a pot of money for an administration to use at their discretion. This commonsense legislative proposal will require the Treasury Department to make public the details of any claims made on the taxpayer-supported Judgement Fund. It will also prevent a future White House from sending American tax dollars to any state sponsor of terrorism using the Judgement Fund. I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass this important transparency legislation.”

“The troubling ransom payment to Iran last year underscored the dire need for something I have advocated for years: greater transparency and oversight of the Judgment Fund,” said Fischer. “With clearer oversight of this fund, Congress can effectively track taxpayers dollars and encourage responsible foreign policies that protect our people.”

“Taxpayers are subsidizing billions in settlements and court judgments against the U.S. government without basic knowledge of the cases, domestic or foreign parties involved, or how the transaction occurred,” Sen. Cruz said. “Ensuring the Judgment Fund is utilizing dollars in a manner that truly represents America’s best national security interests is simple common sense. I’m glad to join Sens. Lankford and Fischer in this legislation to establish the appropriate level of accountability and oversight of this important fund."

“Increasing transparency of taxpayer funded payments using the Judgement Fund is both practical and necessary,” said Inhofe. “Last year’s payment to Iran was a clear signal that not only is the Judgement Fund lacking oversight but that taxpayer money is being provided to countries that sponsor terrorist activities. I am glad to join my colleagues in introducing this legislation and look forward to moving it through Congress.”

The bill requires information on payments for domestic or international court judgments from the Treasury Department’s Judgment Fund to be made public. Previous administrations have sought to use the fund to pay billions of dollars to foreign state sponsors of terrorism, like Iran, and to make payments to cover losses incurred by health insurances providers, something Congress explicitly banned in the 2015 budget deal.    

The bill would also prohibit US taxpayer dollars from being paid out to state sponsors of terrorism.

Senator Lankford serves on the Senate Intelligence Committee and Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs.

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