International Emergency Economic Powers Act

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International Emergency Economic Powers Act
Great Seal of the United States
Long title An Act with respect to the powers of the President in time of war or national emergency.
Acronyms (colloquial) IEEPA
Enacted by the 95th United States Congress
Effective December 28, 1977
Public law 95-223
Statutes at Large 91 Stat. 1625
Titles amended 50 U.S.C.: War and National Defense
U.S.C. sections created 50 U.S.C. ch. 35 § 1701 et seq.
Legislative history
United States Supreme Court cases
Dames & Moore v. Regan

The International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), Title II of Pub.L. 95–223, 91 Stat. 1626, enacted October 28, 1977, is a United States federal law authorizing the President to regulate commerce after declaring a national emergency in response to any unusual and extraordinary threat to the United States which has a foreign source.

The H.R. 7738 legislation was passed by the United States 95th Congressional session and signed by the 39th President of the United States Jimmy E. Carter on December 28, 1977.[1]


In the United States Code, the IEEPA is Title 50, §§1701–1707.[2] The IEEPA authorizes the president to declare the existence of an "unusual and extraordinary threat... to the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States" that originates "in whole or substantial part outside the United States."[3] It further authorizes the president, after such a declaration, to block transactions and freeze assets to deal with the threat.[4] In the event of an actual attack on the United States, the president can also confiscate property connected with a country, group, or person that aided in the attack.[5]

The IEEPA falls under the provisions of the National Emergencies Act (NEA), which means that an emergency declared under the act must be renewed annually to remain in effect.


Curtailment of Emergency Executive Powers[edit]

Congress enacted the IEEPA in 1977 to clarify and restrict presidential power during times of declared national emergency under the Trading with the Enemy Act of 1917 ("TWEA"). Under TWEA, starting with Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933, presidents had the power to declare emergencies without limiting their scope or duration, without citing the relevant statutes, and without congressional oversight.[6] The Supreme Court in Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer limited what a president could do in such an emergency, but did not limit the emergency declaration power itself. A 1973 Senate investigation found (in Senate Report 93-549) that four declared emergencies remained in effect: the 1933 banking crisis with respect to the hoarding of gold,[7] a 1950 emergency with respect to the Korean War,[8] a 1970 emergency regarding the postal workers strike, and a 1971 emergency in response to the government's deteriorating economic and fiscal conditions.[9] Congress terminated these emergencies with the National Emergencies Act, and then passed the IEEPA to restore the emergency power in a limited, overseeable form.

Unlike TWEA, IEEPA was drafted to permit presidential emergency declarations only in response to threats originating outside the United States.[10] Beginning with Jimmy Carter in response to the Iran Hostage Crisis, presidents have invoked IEEPA to safeguard U.S. national security interests by freezing or "blocking" assets of belligerent foreign governments,[11] or certain foreign nationals abroad.[12]

IEEPA After 9/11[edit]

Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, President George W. Bush issued Executive Order 13224 under IEEPA to block the assets of terrorist organizations.[13] The President delegated blocking authority to federal agencies led by the U.S. Treasury. In October 2001, Congress passed the USA PATRIOT Act which, in part, enhanced the IEEPA asset blocking provisions under §1702(a)(1)(B) to permit the blocking of assets during the "pendency of an investigation." This statutory change gave the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control the power to block assets without the need to provide evidence of the blocking subject's wrongdoing nor to permit the blocking subject a chance to effectively respond to the allegations in court.[14] Executing these blocking actions led to a series of legal cases challenging federal authority to indefinitely prevent charitable organizations from accessing their assets held in the United States.[15]


Notable Cases[edit]

IEEPA Violations[edit]

Current subjects of IEEPA emergencies[edit]

As of 2015, the following IEEPA emergencies are active.[20]

Starting year Target country Executive order Basis of emergency Scope
1979 Iran 12170 Iran hostage crisis Property of the government of Iran and its instrumentalities
1994 Worldwide 12938 Proliferation of weapons of mass destruction US-held property of persons that engage in or support proliferation
1995 Iran 12957 Actions and policies of the government Various forms of commerce involving Iran
1995 Middle east 12947 Terrorist violence to disrupt the peace process US-held property of Specially Designated Terrorists committing or supporting such violence
1995 Colombia 12978 Foreign narcotics traffic US-held property of traffickers and their material supporters
1997 Sudan 13067 Actions and policies of the government US-Sudan commerce generally
2001 Western Balkans 13219 Extremist violence and actions that obstruct the Dayton Agreement or UNSC Resolution 1244 US-held property of persons engaged in or providing support for such activities
2001 Worldwide 13222 Expiration of the Export Administration Act Continuation of authority for all regulations previously authorized under the Act
2001 Worldwide 13224 Threat of terrorist attacks on the US and its nationals US-held property of Specially Designated Global Terrorists that commit, threaten to commit or support terrorism, including al-Qaeda
2003 Zimbabwe 13288 Actions and policies of members of the government US-held property of 77 government officials
2003 Iraq 13303 Obstacles to reconstruction US-held property of officials and associates of the Saddam Hussein government, and of persons undermining stabilization efforts with violence
2004 Syria 13338 Various aggressive actions of the government US-held property of persons involved in those actions
2006 Belarus 13405 Actions and policies of members of the government US-held property of government officials and other persons involved in human rights abuses
2006 Democratic Republic of the Congo 13413 Violence and atrocities that threaten regional stability US-held property of persons contributing to said violence
2007 Lebanon 13441 Actions to undermine the government Various forms of commerce involving persons engaged in such actions
2008 North Korea 13466 Actions and policies of the government Various forms of commerce involving North Korea and its nationals
2010 Somalia 13536 Deterioration of the security situation US-held property of persons that threaten the peace, security, or stability of Somalia
2011 Libya 13566 Extreme measures taken during the Libyan Civil War US-held property of officials and associates of the Muammar Gaddafi government
2011 Worldwide 13581 Activities of transnational criminal organizations US-held property of persons involved in such organizations
2012 Yemen 13611 Actions and policies that threaten the peace, security, or stability of Yemen US-held property of persons engaged in such actions
2014 Ukraine and Russia 13660 Actions and policies of persons engaged in the Ukraine crisis US-held property of such persons
2014 Central African Republic 13667 Central African Republic conflict (2012–present) US-held property of persons contributing to the conflict
2014 South Sudan 13664 Activities that threaten regional peace, security, or stability US-held property of persons engaged in such activities
2015 Venezuela 13692 Human rights violations US-held property of persons responsible for such violations
2015 Worldwide 13694 Significant malicious cyber-enabled activities US-held property of persons responsible for or complicit in such activities
2015 Burundi 13712 2015 Burundian unrest US-held property of persons engaged in destabilizing activities

Past subjects of IEEPA emergencies[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Peters, Gerhard; Woolley, John T. "Jimmy Carter: "Presidential War Powers Bill Statement on Signing H.R. 7738 Into Law.," December 28, 1977". The American Presidency Project. University of California – Santa Barbara. 
  2. ^ 50 U.S. Code Chapter 35 - INTERNATIONAL EMERGENCY ECONOMIC POWERS | LII / Legal Information Institute. Retrieved on 2014-06-16.
  3. ^ 50 U.S.C. §1701(a)
  4. ^ 50 U.S.C. §1702(a)(1)(B)
  5. ^ 50 U.S.C. §1702(a)(1)(C)
  6. ^ H. Rep. No. 95-459, at 7 (1977) "[the TWEA] has become essentially an unlimited grant of authority for the President to exercise, at his discretion, broad powers in both the domestic and international economic arena, without congressional review. These powers may be exercised so long as there is an unterminated declaration of national emergency on the books, whether or not the situation with respect to which the emergency was declared bears any relationship to the situation with respect to which the President is using the authorities"
  7. ^ Executive Order 6102
  8. ^ Executive Proclamation 2914,
  9. ^ S. Rep. No. 93-549, at 2 (1973),
  10. ^ 50 U.S.C. §1701(a)
  11. ^ Executive Order 12170, 44 C.F.R. 65,729
  12. ^ Exec. Order No. 12,978, 60 C.F.R. 54,579 (1995) (blocking the assets of certain Colombian narcotics traffickers)
  13. ^ Exec. Order. No. 13224, Sec. 1(a),
  14. ^ Kindhearts v. Geithner, 647 F. Supp. 2d 857, 866, ND Ohio 2009,,14&as_vis=1
  15. ^ See e.g., id.
  16. ^ KindHearts v. Geithner, supra
  17. ^ USDOJ: Office of the Pardon Attorney: Clemency Recipients. Retrieved on 2014-06-16.
  18. ^ Williams, Timothy; Rashbaum, William K. (2006-08-25), "New York Man Charged With Enabling Hezbollah Television Broadcasts", The New York Times 
  19. ^ Press Release, U.S. Dept. of Justice, Credit Suisse Agrees to Forfeit $536 Million in Connection with Violations of the International Emergency Powers Act and New York State Law (Dec. 16, 2009)
  20. ^ U.S. Treasury, Office of Foreign Asset Control, Sanctions Programs and Country Information