GOP senator: Block cash payments to state terror sponsors
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Sen. David Perdue wants to block the Obama administration from making cash payments to state sponsors of terrorism amid lingering fallout from what GOP lawmakers argue was a "ransom" paid to Iran. 

"It is unbelievable this legislation is even necessary," the Georgia Republican said in a statement. "Untraceable cash payments should not be going to nations supporting terrorism or other nefarious activities — period." 
 
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The legislation would block payments either in cash or precious metals to foreign governments that have been designated as state sponsors of terrorism. Three countries — Iran, Sudan and Syria — currently carry the State Department designation. 
 
Perdue added that under current law, a "loophole" allows the federal government to make the payments. He pointed to the $400 million paid to Iran earlier this year. That payment was part of a larger, $1.7 billion deal to settle an arms deal made between Washington and Tehran before the 1979 Iranian Revolution. 
 
Though the administration argues the money was a settlement announced in January of a decades-old arms dispute, Republicans have seized on the fact that the money was paid in cash and coincided with the release of Americans held in Iran to argue it was a ransom payment.
 
Perdue added that "it is our job to safeguard Americans' tax dollars" and that the administration should not be giving Iran cash payments, which cannot be traced and which Republicans have warned could be used to support terrorism. 
 
The House passed legislation last week to prohibit the government from making future cash payments to Iran until the president certifies it is not a state sponsor of terrorism. 
 
A push to only require the president to notify Congress of settlement payments to countries designated as terrorism sponsors was rejected along a largely party-line vote. 
 
The Senate bill would also crack down on payments to North Korea, which is currently not designated as a state sponsor of terrorism, because of the isolated country's continued missile tests despite United Nations Security Council resolutions. 
 
Perdue's legislation comes as the Wall Street Journal reported Friday that the Obama administration agreed to support lifting U.N. sanctions on two Iranian banks on the same day the countries swapped prisoners. 
 
Though U.S. sanctions on the bank were lifted as part of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, the U.N. sanctions were to remain until 2023. 
 
The report has sparked outrage from GOP lawmakers, who argue it is another sign of the administration's willingness to placate Tehran in the wake of last year's nuclear agreement. 
 
“In a misguided effort to defend their fundamentally flawed nuclear agreement, the Obama administration consistently and reflexively has agreed to concessions, exceptions, and side agreements for Tehran that have made a very bad deal even worse, and today’s news is just the latest capitulation," Sen. Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteAudit finds US Defense Department wasted hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars US sends A-10 squadron to Afghanistan for first time in three years No, the US did not spend million on a gas station in Afghanistan MORE (R-N.H.) said in a statement.