Pence OORAH Act Passes House Measure supports families of U.S. service members killed in Iranian-backed 1983 Marine barracks terrorist attack in Beirut

July 17, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Representative Greg Pence applauded his House colleagues for supporting his legislation to help terrorist victims and their families collect financial judgments from the perpetrators of the horrific 1983 Marine Barracks Terrorist Attack in Beirut.

The Our Obligation to Recognize American Heroes (OORAH) Act of 2019, H.R. 2790, amends the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012 to allow families of the 1983 Marine Barracks terrorist attack victims to execute on $1.68 billion in Iranian funds.

The measure is an amendment to H.R. 3494, a package to authorize agencies that make up the Intelligence Community, and is the second piece of legislation authored by Rep. Pence. It passed the House floor overwhelmingly Wednesday night with bipartisan support. The Senate and the House must conference to negotiate differences before the measure is sent to President Donald Trump's desk for signature.

"Terrorists, and those who support them financially, must be held accountable for the 1983 Marine Barracks attack that took the lives of 241 American service members, including 220 Marines," Rep. Pence said. "This legislation will help victims and their families obtain just a small amount of justice."s

Photo taken by Rep. Greg Pence from the top of the Marine Barracks in Beirut, Lebanon (captured shortly before Oct. 23, 1983)
Photo taken by Rep. Greg Pence from the top of the Marine Barracks in Beirut, Lebanon (captured shortly before Oct. 23, 1983)

Rep. Greg Pence with fellow Marines (captured in Fall 1983)
Rep. Greg Pence with fellow Marines (captured in Fall 1983)

Rep. Pence, who served in the Marines from 1979 to 1984, was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines which was ordered to Beirut, Lebanon in 1983.

"I was lucky. My battalion shipped out 10 days before the bombing," Pence said on the floor of the House Tuesday evening. "I was able to come home to my wife, who was expecting our first child, and my family in Columbus. I told myself I would never forget those men."

Similar legislation passed out of the Senate, where Sen. Tom Cotton led the effort.

Background: In October 1983, an Iranian national drove a truck bomb into the U.S. Marine Barracks in Beirut, Lebanon. The devastating bombing killed 241 American service members, including 220 Marines. The attack was perpetrated by Hezbollah, a terror group founded, trained, and financially supported by the Iranian regime.

Since the attack, the victims’ families have won several court judgments authorizing the seizure of Iranian funds as restitution for the attack. Currently, these families seek to enforce these judgments against the Iranian regime.

This legislation amends the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012 to allow the families of the Marine Barracks bombing victims to execute on $1.68 billion in Iranian funds currently held by Clearstream, a Luxembourg-based firm