Senator Ted Cruz blasted Dianne Feinstein via Twitter Saturday, tweeting:
The Ayatollah leads chants of “death to America.” He pledges to destroy America, which he calls “the Great Satan.” And Senate Dems want to send him millions??? At the EXACT SAME TIME, Senate Dems are blocking desperately need relief to small businesses in America.
Feinstein had tweeted “The coronavirus has hit Iran hard, with the potential for even greater spread in the region. In the interest of international security, President Trump should support Iran’s request to the IMF for emergency funds to contain this virus.”
Per The Fiscal Times, a bill that would add $250 billion to the emergency loan program for small businesses hurt by the coronavirus pandemic fell short in the Senate Thursday.
In a nearly deserted Capitol, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) tried to approve the legislation by voice vote, but Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) objected to the request, calling it a “political stunt” while noting that the program hasn’t yet run through its initial $350 billion funding. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) offered an amendment to the bill with provisions Democrats have been seeking, which McConnell promptly blocked. The Senate then adjourned until next week.
Even if it had passed the Senate, the bill was not expected to pass the House, given Democrats’ interest in new requirements for the small business program, as well as a broader aid package. “The bill that they put forth will not get unanimous support in the House,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday. “It just won’t.”
The WSJ reported that the U.S. plans to block Iran’s requested $5 billion emergency loan from the International Monetary Fund for funding Tehran says it needs to fight its coronavirus crisis.
Per Marketwatch, Senior officials in the Trump administration said Iran’s government has billion-dollar accounts still at its disposal. If allowed to tap IMF financing, the officials said, Tehran would then be able to divert those or other funds to help its economy, which has been weakened by U.S. sanctions, or finance militants in the Middle East, rather than on containing the pandemic.
Iranian “officials have a long history of diverting funds allocated for humanitarian goods into their own pockets and to their terrorist proxies, ” one of the administration officials said.
The IMF, which is facing urgent funding requests from scores of governments, said it is in talks with Tehran to determine its eligibility for an emergency loan.
The pandemic has torn through Iran, one of the worst-affected countries, and jolted an Iranian economy already reeling from the Trump administration sanctions under its “maximum pressure campaign.” Despite calls from some humanitarian groups and other nations to ease the sanctions, the administration has instead said it won’t relent in putting pressure on Tehran.
Iran’s representative at the United Nations didn’t respond to a request for comment on the U.S. decision on IMF funding. Iranian officials have called the U.S. sanctions amid the pandemic “medical terrorism” and said U.S. offers of humanitarian assistance to help fight the coronavirus are “deceptions and lies.”
As the IMF’s largest shareholder, the U.S. largely determines the fate of bailout requests, though technically IMF member countries could amass a majority of votes to approve Iran’s loan even with U.S. opposition.