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House passes Huizenga legislation to protect taxpayers, block U.S. financing for Iran aircraft

Today, the House passed H.R. 5711, legislation introduced by Congressman Bill Huizenga (MI-02) that would prohibit the U.S. Treasury Secretary from allowing any U.S. financial institution from financing the sale of aircraft to Iran. Additionally, this legislation would prevent the use of taxpayer dollars from being used to finance any sale through the Export-Import Bank either directly, or through a third party. H.R. 5711 passed by a vote of 243 to 174.

Congressman Huizenga detailed why U.S. taxpayers and U.S. financial institutions should not finance the potential sale of aircraft to Iran, the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism, on the House floor.

Rep. Huizenga: Mr. Speaker, when our fellow Americans deposit their earnings in a U.S. bank, or entrust the government with their tax dollars, they do so assuming that their money will not be used in ways which undermine the security of our nation and frankly the world.

The legislation we are debating tonight is a package of bills designed to prevent the Obama Administration from further undermining the trust of the American people and the security of our nation as well as the security of our allies.

Under President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran – formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA – the Administration agreed to authorize the export of civilian aircraft to Iran. What the JCPOA did not include was authorization for U.S. financing of those sales.

As Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said in April, “Iran complied with the nuclear agreement. Therefore, the nuclear sanctions are lifted. I think that that is a process that is becoming more and more clear, and we’ll keep our part of the bargain there. But the U.S. financial system is not open to Iran and that is not something that is going to change.”

Well, Mr. Speaker, something changed. In September, Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control issued licenses to Airbus and Boeing permitting the sale of up to 97 planes to Iran Air, the country’s flagship state-owned carrier.

These licenses didn’t stop there, however. By going beyond the scope of the JCPOA, they also authorized U.S. financial institutions “to engage in all transactions necessary to provide financing or other financial services” related to the Iran Air orders.

My bill, H.R. 5711, would prohibit the Secretary of the Treasury from authorizing U.S. financing through American banks in connection with the export of commercial aircraft to Iran, just as the Administration claimed was U.S. policy to begin with.

This bill would keep Americans’ deposits away from a country that the President’s own State Department calls “the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism,” and which Treasury has designated as “a jurisdiction of primary money laundering concern.”

Under this bill, Americans would not have to fear that their savings are being channeled to Iran Air, which was sanctioned by Treasury in 2011 for ferrying soldiers and weapons of war to Syria, the site of a five-year conflict that has claimed half a million lives.

This is the same Iran Air that a UN report concluded had shared ballistic military technology with North Korea. And the same Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps whose deputy commander called for the end of Israel, making note of more than 100,000 missiles that are ready “for the annihilation, the wiping out, and the collapse of the Zionist regime.”

Additionally, research by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies shows that Iran Air’s support of the Assad regime continues to this very day

Why should U.S. banks and their customers be implicated in Iranian atrocities? I would submit that there is no reasonable answer, which is why this common-sense prohibition, when offered as an amendment to this year’s Financial Services Appropriations bill, was passed by this very body, the House of Representatives, by voice vote.

However, this bill goes even further, Mr. Speaker. Not only will H.R. 5711 protect Americans’ bank accounts, it will prevent their tax dollars from being used through the Export-Import Bank to subsidize aircraft sales for Iran, be it through direct transactions or third-party leasing. This codifies and strengthens an existing Ex-Im prohibition that is renewed in annual appropriations bills. For that reason, this measure enjoyed the support of Ex-Im supporters and critics alike when it came before the Financial Services Committee.

H.R. 5711 combines the text of two bills reported by the Committee on Financial Services, one of them sponsored by myself and the other by Congressman Roskam of Illinois. Both pieces of legislation were cosponsored by our Democratic colleague, Congressman Sherman of California, who has devoted years to Iran policy both as a member of Financial Services and the Foreign Affairs Committee.

I’d like to thank Rep. Sherman and Rep. Roskam for working with me on this very important legislative package and I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this important bill.

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