The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday approved defense legislation that would penalize foreign financial entities that do business with the Central Bank of Iran (see GSN, Dec. 14).
Lawmakers voted 283-136 in favor of the $662 billion defense authorization bill, the Washington Post reported. The Senate was expected to consider the measure on Thursday (Felicia Sonmez, Washington Post, Dec. 14).
If enacted, the law "will put real additional pressure on the Iranians so they are going to pay a bigger and bigger price, if they continue to move towards nuclear weapons," CNN quoted Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) as saying (CNN, Dec. 15).
A conference committee of House and Senate lawmakers produced a single compromise version of the separate bills approved by chambers.
The conference report "reflects the widely held bipartisan proposition that those who would do business with Iran, including for the purchase of petroleum through its central bank, have to choose which they prefer: access to the $14 trillion economy of the United States or access to Iran’s $250 billion economy," according to a release from the House Armed Services Committee. "The conferees included a Senate-passed amendment to require the president to sanction entities, including state central banks, engaging in financial transactions with the Central Bank of Iran" (U.S. House Armed Services Committee release, Dec. 12).
The conference committee also relaxed House proposals that would have restricted the administration's decision-making on the size of the U.S. nuclear arsenal (see GSN, Dec. 14).
The House on Wednesday also found near-unanimous support for two bills that would further sanction Iran over its nuclear program, Agence France-Presse reported.
Lawmakers voted 410-11 and 418-2 for the measures.
One bill would penalize firms or national governments that maintain financial stakes in Iran's energy operations, provide gasoline to the Middle Eastern state, or support any Iranian biological, chemical, nuclear or sophisticated conventional arms activities. The other would sanction entities that support WMD and missile programs in Iran, North Korea and Syria (Agence France-Presse I, Dec. 14).
The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday approved defense legislation that would penalize foreign financial entities that do business with the Central Bank of Iran.