Washington Examiner – The House passed legislation Thursday that would require Treasury Department officials to report to Congress on Iranian purchases of U.S. aircraft and how those sales are financed, and certify that they would not aid Iran’s effort to distribute weapons.
The bill is another effort by lawmakers to highlight how U.S. sales of aircraft to Iran might boost the regime’s terrorist activities in the Middle East. It passed 252-167 — all but four Republicans supported it, and they were joined by 23 Democrats.
But the debate over the bill reflected dueling views of whether the legislation would break U.S. commitments under the Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
Republicans emphasized that the legislation does not bar any aircraft sales to Iran. Instead, it requires the Treasury Department to notify Congress about the activities of the Iranian company that purchases the planes, as well as the financing used for the deal.
“Every six months, Treasury would need to certify to us that financed authorizations would not benefit an Iranian person that is transporting items for the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction or providing transportation for sanctioned entities,” Rep. Roger Williams, the Texas Republican who offered the legislation, said during a Wednesday evening debate on the House floor. “Treasury would also have to certify to us that those authorizations don’t pose a significant money laundering or terrorism finance risk to the U.S. financial system and that any banks engaging in this business have appropriate due diligence procedures in place.”
The bill doesn’t create a mechanism for blocking the sales, lawmakers emphasized. The most immediate practical affect of the legislation might be felt in the courts rather than the national security arena, according to one observer. It might create an avenue for Americans of victims of Iranian terrorism to collect some of the money owed them, which totals more than $43 billion, according to some estimates.
“By identifying the financiers of the sale it helps them identify where they can swoop in and potentially seize assets (which is to say, seize the planes), and then sell them in order to get some of the compensation they deserve,” a Middle East foreign policy expert who works with Republican lawmakers suggested in an email.