Contact: James Arnold or Mary Collins Atkinson (202) 224-2353
April 16, 2021 

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

Washington, D.C. — Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Todd Young (R-Indiana), and Rick Scott (R-Florida) re-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 take an American hostage – it won’t only be the hostage who will suffer. America must never accept extortion by hostage-taking as the cost of doing business. It warrants severe consequences, and that’s what this bill delivers,” said Cotton. 

"I am proud to once again join this effort to ensure brutal regimes and terrorists are sanctioned if they seize Americans as hostages. This is a battle I have been waging throughout my service in the Senate, including against Iranian regime officials who seized our diplomats in 1979. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to swiftly take up and pass this bill to defend our national security interests abroad and hold these corrupt actors accountable for their malign actions," said Cruz.

“The Global Hostage Act will send a message to the world that anyone who takes an American hostage will pay a severe price for their actions. As President Reagan famously proclaimed to hostage takers in 1985, ‘America does not make concessions to terrorists, to do so would only invite more terrorism.’ This bill is about making sure that promise remains true today and in the future,” said Young.

“Under no circumstance should terrorists or our adversaries be allowed to hold Americans hostage and still reap benefits from the United States. This legislation sends a clear message: if you kidnap Americans, you can expect severe consequences,” said Scott.

Specifically, the bill:

  • Requires that the executive branch impose mandatory sanctions on foreign government officials and other foreign persons 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.
  • States that it is U.S. policy to not pay ransoms to secure the release of U.S. citizens or aliens lawfully admitted for permanent residence who are taken hostage abroad.
  • Expresses a Sense of Congress that the United States must take all measures to prevent foreign governments or non-state actors from engaging in hostage-taking, including prosecuting and extraditing those responsible and encouraging allies and partners to do the same.