Sen. Marco Rubio said Wednesday legislation he introduced to require Iran to return the $1.7 billion in cash it received for releasing four American hostages seeks to hold the Obama administration "accountable for its lies."
"After pressure, the administration admitted the timing of the payments in relation to the hostage release was not as coincidental as it had initially claimed," the Florida Republican wrote in an op-ed piece in the Tampa Bay Times. "This proves that the president lied about his intentions behind the payment.
The Obama administration told Congress on Tuesday it had transferred a total of $1.7 billion in cash to Iran between Jan. 17 and Feb. 5 — about four times the initial $400 million it initially disclosed.
The subsequent $1.3 billion was provided to Tehran as the earlier amount, via two shipments on a cargo plane leaving Switzerland. The cash payments were in Swiss francs, euros and other currencies.
The four Americans were released Jan. 16.
Rubio's "No Ransom Payments Act" would require Tehran to return all the funds and bar any future payments until Iran paid the $55 billion U.S courts have awarded to Americans who have suffered from Iranian-backed terrorism, including those taken hostage in 1979.
The bill also would impose economic sanctions against Iranians who take American citizens hostage or otherwise detain them.
Rubio slammed Obama's claim the money settled a claim dating back to 1979 for airplane parts that were never delivered.
"Congress has a responsibility to act on this matter," Rubio continued. "If it does not, it would send a signal to America's enemies that our government no longer takes seriously its longstanding refusal to pay ransom for hostages.
"That's a disturbing thought."