Cotton, Cruz Introduce Bill Sanctioning Foreign Government Officials Who Hold Americans Hostage

U.S. Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) today introduced The Global Hostage Act, a bill that would require the president to impose sanctions on foreign government officials responsible for taking Americans hostage. It would also bar those officials and their families from receiving U.S. visas. The bill text is available here.

“If you’re in the business of kidnapping Americans, you shouldn’t be able to send your kids to American universities or take lavish vacations in the United States. My bill would punish those who hold Americans hostage by sanctioning their assets and blocking their travel to the United States,” said Cotton.

“Across the globe brutal regimes and terrorist groups seize Americans and use them as hostages, hoping to receive concessions from the United States,” Cruz said. “We shouldn’t give them that hope. To that end, our bill imposes sanctions on all those who engage in hostage taking of American citizens and legal permanent residents, and bars their family members from entering the United States. This is a battle I have been waging throughout my service in the Senate, including keeping out diplomats appointed by the Iranian regime who seized our hostages in 1979.”

Specifically, the bill:

  • Requires that the executive branch impose mandatory sanctions on foreign government officials responsible for taking U.S. hostages.
  • Denies U.S. visas to sanctioned hostage takers and their family members.
  • Creates a mechanism for Congress to require that the executive branch review specific foreign government officials for hostage-taking sanctions eligibility.