The U.S. House of Representatives sent a clear and concise message to Iran by blocking the billion dollar Boeing aircraft deal with both Republicans and Democrats both in agreement despite the Obama administration’s futile attempts to push the deal through.
The House on Thursday evening passed Republican-led legislation to block Boeing’s planned sale of aircraft to Iran — a move that was not heavily contested by Democrats despite the Obama administration’s support for the sale. The House passed the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act 239-185, which contained two amendments by Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) to block sales by Boeing and Airbus aircraft to Iran.
The amendments both passed by voice vote, which a statement from Roskam’s office said indicates “overwhelming, bipartisan support.” One amendment prohibits the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) from using funds to authorize a license necessary to allow aircraft to be sold to Iran. The other amendment ensures Iran will not receive loans from U.S. financial institutions to purchase militarily-fungible aircraft, by prohibiting OFAC from using funds to authorize the financing of such transactions.
Earlier in the day, the sales were the subject of a Financial Services Committee hearing. Boeing announced last month that it intended to sell 80 commercial aircraft to Iran Air for $17.6 billion, and lease another 29 aircraft, bringing the potential deal to $25 billion. Deliveries, pending approval by the Obama administration, would begin in 2017.
Republican and some Democratic critics of the deal expressed concern that the aircraft would be used by Iran for illicit activities, such as ferrying weapons to Syria in support of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) wrote a letter to the Obama administration in June saying it is “virtually certain” the aircraft would be used for nefarious purposes, since Iran Air is aligned with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, which remains under sanction. Iran Air was removed from a sanctions list as part of the nuclear deal with Iran, which rolled back sanctions in exchange for limits to Iran’s nuclear program. The Obama administration has voiced support for the sale in recent weeks.
“Iran Air’s aircraft will undoubtedly be used in the future to continue to funnel lethal assistance to Assad, to Hezbollah, and to other terrorist entities,”
Sherman wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew and Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker on June 30. On Thursday, Sherman touted the passage of the amendments (below is the video clip of Representative Brad Sherman (D-CA) on the House floor arguing against Iran getting Boeing aircraft and being financed by U.S. banks).
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