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Legislation Would Allow States to Divest Public Pension Money from Companies Doing Business with Iran

PITTSBURGH, PA – U.S. Senator Bob Casey today joined Pennsylvania State Representatives Dan Frankel and Josh Shapiro to advocate for the Iran Sanctions Enabling Act, legislation which would authorize the divestment of public pension money from companies doing business in Iran’s oil and natural gas sector.

“State and local governments, including the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, should have the right to ensure their investments and pension funds do not support companies that do business with Iran,” said Senator Casey.  “Iran will only cease its illicit nuclear program and end its support for terror groups like Hamas and Hezbollah when it is compelled to pay an economic price.   I am pleased to be working on important bipartisan sanctions legislation in the United States Senate while working in conjunction with my colleague in Pennsylvania, Representative Shapiro.”

“The catastrophe in Sudan compelled the United States Government to label an on-going international human rights crisis as genocide for the first time,” said Rep. Frankel. “This past summer, the world witnessed Iran’s people suffer politically motivated violence from their own government. It’s clear that in these two cases, we can and must use our influence to change the behavior of the government.  There has been much discussion of possible military intervention in Iran. In light of the situation in Iraq, and the commitment of additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan, we should first take every non-military step we can.”

"We must effectively and wisely use our economic might to isolate Iran and remove their nuclear threat," said Rep. Shapiro. "Senator Casey's legislation in the U.S. Senate, coupled with mine in the Pennsylvania General Assembly, will ensure that the billions which flow to Iran through U.S. pension funds will be choked off. This joint effort will leave the Iranians with less capital to pursue their rogue agenda which undermines peace and stability in the region." 

Senator Casey, along with Senator Sam Brownback, introduced the Iran Sanctions Enabling Act in the Senate last year.  Pennsylvania Representative Shapiro introduced companion legislation in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

Iranian leaders have publicly estimated that Iran requires $20 billion annually in investments for its oil and natural gas sector.  The revenue from Iran’s oil and gas industry directly funds its nuclear program as well as its support for international terrorism.  Iran has been repeatedly identified by the U.S. State Department as the chief state sponsor of international terrorism.  Iran defies the international community, its nonproliferation obligations and numerous United Nations resolutions by continuing to develop its nuclear program. 

Due to the economic sanctions, risk warnings, credit restrictions and other measures announced by the international community, the conduct of business in Iran’s energy sector is especially risky.  By investing in companies with ties to Iran’s energy sector, states put their assets at substantial financial and global security risk.  Eighteen U.S. states already have either enacted Iran divestment legislation, or adopted policies to the same effect.