Press Releases

Rubio Joins Effort To Protect States’ Right To Sanction Iran

Measure protects Florida’s pioneering effort, led by then-House Speaker Rubio, to sanction Iran at state level.

Washington, D.C.– U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) today introduced legislation, S.Con.Res. 26‎, to reaffirm congressional support for continued sanctions by state and local governments in the U.S. against Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism, human rights violations, and other illicit behavior.‎

“As Speaker of the Florida House, I led our state’s push to stand with Israel by requiring the Florida pension program to divest from companies linked to the terrorist regime in Iran,” Rubio said. “As the first state to enact such legislation, Florida pioneered what became a national effort to divest from entities with any link to the brutal Iranian regime, denying it access to more money that would be used to develop nuclear weapons, sponsor terrorism and commit human rights abuses.

“President Obama’s fundamentally flawed nuclear deal potentially jeopardizes the strong stances states have taken to divest from Iran,” added Rubio. “This resolution makes clear that Congress wants to give states the opportunity to take a stand and send the message that this is not Florida’s, or any other state’s deal with Iran; it’s just the president’s flawed deal. With this resolution, states will be able to stop their pension funds from filling Tehran’s coffers.”

The concurrent resolution reiterates that U.S. law authorizes state and local governments to enact sanctions against Iran’s illicit activities and entities that do business with Iran, and reaffirms that the nuclear deal with Iran does not affect the legal authority of states and local governments to enact sanctions against Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism and human rights violations.

A PDF of S.Con.Res. 26 is available here.

BACKGROUND: As Speaker of the Florida House, Rubio led Florida’s pioneering effort to sanction Iran at the state level.

  • In May 2007, while Rubio was serving as Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, the legislature passed a bill requiring state retirement funds to divest themselves of investments in companies doing business in Sudan or Iran’s energy sector. (Florida House of Representatives, Bill Number 2142 Roll Call, 5/2/2007)
    • As reported by the Orlando Sentinel, “Florida became the first state to divest holdings in its $100 billion pension fund from companies with ties to Iran and Sudan.” (Josh Hafenbrack, Orlando Sentinel, “Florida state employees can invest in ‘terror-free’ retirement accounts,” 6/5/2009)
    • As the Associated Press reported, “the measure targets companies with contracts deemed to be helpful to the government of the east African nation of Sudan, which is accused by many nations of supporting a genocide, and companies thought to be involved in Iran’s energy sector.” (Associated Press, “The day in Tallahassee,” 4/25/2007)
    • As the Associated Press explained, “A growing number of states [were] moving to pull investments out of companies that conduct business with Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria, all of which [were] on the State Department’s list of terror-sponsoring nations.” (Associated Press, “The day in Tallahassee,” 3/28/2007)
  • Since then, the District of Columbia and 29 other states have joined Florida and imposed Iran-related divestment sanctions, including: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Washington.
    • Eleven of these states have also enacted laws or policies to prohibit state or local governments from awarding contracts to firms that do business with Iran: California, Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and South Carolina.