Iran Deal Opponents in Congress Continue Efforts Against Boeing Sale

Washington, DC – Lawmakers opposed to the Iran nuclear agreement doubled down on efforts to block the sale of Boeing commercial jets to Iran on Wednesday as the House Financial Services Committee advanced three pieces of legislation attacking the deal. Under the Iran nuclear agreement, the U.S. committed to lifting restrictions that prevent the sale of civilian aircraft to Iran, clearing the way for a deal that will net upwards of $20 billion for the U.S. company and replenish an Iranian civilian air fleet that has become dangerously antiquated under sanctions.
 
“By denying the tangible benefits promised as part of the deal to the Iranian people, we undermine the reformers who came to the negotiating and strengthen the hand of the hardliners,” argued the panel’s ranking Democrat, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) in opposing the largely Republican effort to block the sale. 
 
Two of the bills advanced by the Committee aim to prevent the sale of any commercial passenger aircraft to Iran, while the third aims to block the Export-Import Bank of the U.S. from financing the export of any goods to Iran. Boeing’s Senior Vice President of Government Operations, Tim Keating has stated that Boeing does not plan to seek financing from the Ex-Im Bank, nor will it sell aircraft to Iran without licensing from the Treasury Department. Moreover, federal law prohibits the Bank from financing exports and re-exports to countries that are designated by the U.S. as State Sponsors of Terrorism, which includes Iran. Members of the Financial Services Committee still sought to codify existing restrictions such that, if Iran were eventually removed from the terrorism list, Ex-Im financing of deals with Iran would still be prohibited.
 
Falling roughly along partisan lines, this latest attempt to block the Boeing deal comes after last week’s passage of two amendments sponsored by Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) to block the Boeing deal, which were included as part of the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act for FY 17 (H.R. 5485).
 
Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-MI) sponsored this week’s bill (H.R. 5711) to prohibit the Secretary of the Treasury from authorizing transactions of aircraft to Iran, which was identical to one of the amendments already passed last week. The Committee approved the measure 33-21. It also approved H.R. 5729, nearly identical to the other amendment passed last week, which would bar the Treasury from issuing licenses for the sale of aircraft to Iran in a 33-21 vote. Committee members acknowledged the redundancy of the measures, yet still urged that advancing them was worthwhile in what increasingly looks like a strategy to create obstacles to invest in Iran and generate bad press for companies seeking to enter the country.
 
Many Democrats protested that the bills were in violation of U.S. obligations under the terms of the Iran nuclear agreement. Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) brandished the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) June report which has certified Iran’s compliance with the agreement. He asserted that Iran has been in “full compliance,” which should oblige the U.S. to do so as well. Many of the Republican lawmakers argued the opposite, claiming inaccurately, that Iran was in violation of the deal.

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