House votes to bar aircraft sales to Iran
The Republican-led House of Representatives on Thursday voted to bar the sale of commercial aircraft to Iran, The Associated Press reported.
By 243-174 vote, lawmakers passed legislation that would prohibit the Treasury Department from issuing the licenses U.S. banks would need to complete the transactions.
The House bill seeks to counter the Treasury’s decision in September to grant aviation giants Boeing and Airbus permission to sell the passenger planes to Tehran.
The bill must now clear the Senate, where the measure would face stiff opposition from Democrats. In any case, President Barack Obama will most likely veto the bill if it reached his desk.
Iran first announced in September of 2015 that it planned to buy Airbus and Boeing passenger planes once the nuclear accord with world powers is implemented. The deal was implemented and sanctions on Iran lifted at the beginning of 2016.
Shortly thereafter, Iran’s national carrier Iran Air signed agreements to buy 118 planes from Airbus, estimated to be worth $25 billion. Iran later reduced the number of planes to 112.
Though based abroad, Airbus needed Treasury’s approval because at least 10 percent of the manufacturer’s components are of American origin.
Under Boeing’s deal, Iran Air is slated to buy 80 aircraft with a total list price of $17.6 billion, with deliveries beginning in 2017 and running until 2025. Iran Air also will lease 29 new Boeing 737s, raising the potential total value of the deal to $25 billion.
Democrats who oppose Thursday’s legislation argue that the proposed sales could generate thousands of new jobs.
Republicans, however, decried the sale of aircraft to a country they say is the leading state sponsor of terrorism and has flouted United Nations resolutions by testing ballistic missiles.
The Treasury Department has said the licenses granted to Boeing and Airbus contained “strict conditions to ensure the planes will be used exclusively for commercial passenger use and cannot be resold or transferred to a designated entity.”
Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL), called the aircraft sales a “scandal.” He harshly criticized Boeing and Airbus for seeking to do business with Iran.
“We need to make sure that the American financial system is not complicit in this deal,” said Roskam, who last summer led a move at the House of Representatives to block the aircraft sales to Iran. “We need to make sure that American taxpayers are not subsidizing this deal.”
Democrats argue that the legislation as another Republican attempt to undermine last year’s Iran nuclear agreement and embarrass the Obama administration.