September 25, 2016
More than 40 Democrats joined Republicans in passing legislation Wednesday aimed at revealing the wealth of Iranian leaders, despitePresident Obama‘s promise to veto the bill due to fears that it would undermine his nuclear deal with the regime.
Lawmakers in the House passed the bill 282-143, and 42 of the “yes” votes came from Democrats. Still, if the bill were to make it to Obama’s desk and he vetoed it, a two-thirds majority would be needed to override that veto, and today’s House vote fell short of that margin.
Secretary of State John Kerry admitted months ago that some of the money Iran received through the lifting of economic sanctions under the nuclear deal would be used to finance terrorism. After failing to block the deal, Republicans have settled on a strategy of discouraging businesses from exercising their right to invest in the country by highlighting the regime’s support for terrorism.
“The people of Iran and the citizens of this world deserve to know how much the chief sponsor of terrorism in Iran have accumulated and what the money is being used for,” Maine Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin, the author of the bill, said on the House floor. “And businesses around the world that are looking to possibly invest in Iran should know before their investment who and what they’re dealing with.”
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Poliquin’s interest in deterring business investments led Obama’s allies to accuse him of trying to blow up the nuclear agreement.
“This is legislation that will be deemed to undermine that agreement and be seen as just another attempt to undermine the president of the United States of America,” said Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif. “This is outrageous … They cannot let their emotions about either not liking the president of the United States or simply not liking Iran to get in the way of this deal that will create safety in the world.”
House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, rejected Waters’ protest that the bill violated the terms of the nuclear deal and he mocked the idea that the Iranians would claim that.
“[The American people] must think when they hear our friends on the other side of the aisle that they have tuned in not to the United States Congress but to the Iranian parliament,” Hensarling said. “Rarely have I heard so many come to the House floor to defend this regime … There is nothing, nothing in this bill that violates the [nuclear deal].”
Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., warned that requiring the Treasury Department to list Iranian assets might expose intelligence methods and sources, while failing to detail the bulk of the Iranian leaders’ wealth. “This bill, if it passes, will get at some tiny fraction of the wealth of the Iranian regime in a way that will embarrass the United States because it will reveal how little we know.”
“If the administration was serious about transparency, they would not give the largest state sponsor of terrorism $1.7 billion in Swiss francs and euros to become an untraceable honeypot for the purchase of ballistic missile components, or to fund terrorism in the West Bank, or to back [Syrian dictator Bashar] Assad,” said Rep. French Hill, R-Ark.