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Sens. Cruz, Cotton, Colleagues Introduce Taylor Force Martyr Payment Prevention Act to Target Palestinian Terror Payments

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), along with 11 of their Senate colleagues, this week introduced the Taylor Force Martyr Payment Prevention Act, legislation aimed at eliminating Palestinian “martyr payments.” The bill would deter foreign banks from making these payments by putting at risk their access to the United States financial system.

Cosponsors include Sens. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

Upon introduction, Sen. Cruz said:

“When President Trump signed the Taylor Force Act into law, he sent the clear message that the United States will not fund a Palestinian leadership that supports acts of terrorism against both American and Israeli citizens. Under the Biden administration, the Palestinian Authority is circumventing American anti-terrorism regulations to continue these payments. The Taylor Force Martyr Payment Prevention Act rightfully strengthens the Treasury Department’s ability to hold foreign banks accountable for processing these heinous ‘pay-for-slay’ payments on behalf of terrorist groups. I am proud to join Sen. Cotton on this bill to help cut off terror financing.”

Sen. Cotton added:

“Radical Islamic terrorists shouldn’t be rewarded for killing innocent people, and banks should be held responsible for processing any sort of ‘martyr payments.’ Our bill will build upon the Taylor Force Act to ensure Palestinian terrorists don’t benefit financially for committing these senseless murders.”


In March 2016, a member of the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas murdered U.S. Army veteran Taylor Force in Tel Aviv, Israel. The terrorist that stabbed Taylor also severely wounded ten others before being killed by Israeli police. Soon thereafter, the terrorist’s family started receiving “martyr payments” from the Palestinian Authority (PA) as a reward for his actions.

In 2018, Congress passed the bipartisan Taylor Force Act, which significantly restricts non-humanitarian U.S. aid to the PA until it ends its “pay to slay” program. The Taylor Force Act recognized the fact that money is fungible and that U.S. aid, even if restricted towards good governance programs, frees up money for the PA to spend more on martyr payments. Although this act penalized the PA for its use of martyr payments, further action is required.

Recent reporting reveals that Palestinian banks and other banks in the Middle East continue to knowingly process these martyr payments, sometimes in U.S. dollar-denominated transactions. These banks flout U.S. anti-terrorism financial regulations but escape sanctions by avoiding an official U.S. presence while maintaining correspondent accounts in the United States. This untenable status quo offers a lifeline to the PA “pay for slay” program.

In April, Sen. Cruz and 17 of his Republican colleagues sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken in response to President Biden’s plan to send a reported $75 million in general economic support payments from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.S. State Department into territories controlled by the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Iran-backed terrorist group Hamas.

The Taylor Force Martyr Payment Prevention Act is supported by the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC), the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), and Christians United for Israel (CUFI).

The Taylor Force Martyr Payment Prevention Act would:

  • Strengthen the Treasury Department’s existing anti-terrorism financing authorities by giving Treasury the additional authority to designate foreign banks as institutions of primary money laundering concern and to forbid them from holding or using correspondent accounts in the United States if:
    • The banks are used to facilitate or promote martyr payments to terrorists.
    • The banks knowingly provide financial services to Hamas.
    • Establish the sense of Congress urging Treasury to find foreign financial institutions that flout anti-terrorism financial regulations to be of primary money laundering concern and to prohibit them from holding or using correspondent accounts in the United States.