July 25, 2017

Panel to Consider Bill Tightening Sanctions Against Iran

By Colby Itkowitz
CQ Staff

The House Financial Services Committee will mark up a bill Wednesday that would tighten economic sanctions against Iran .

The bill (HR2347) would require publishing names of international companies that invest more than $20 million in Iran’s oil and gas industries. Local and state governments and businesses could choose not to invest in international companies with such ties.

The legislation would allow investors to strip their assets from any company on the list.

“This legislation makes use of one of the most successful diplomatic tools available to discourage Iran from developing nuclear weapons: the financial vise,” Tom Lantos, D-Calif., chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement.

Lantos and Barney Frank, D-Mass., introduced the legislation with Barack Obama, D-Ill., who sponsored an identical Senate bill. The bill includes a non-binding provision to encourage the Thrift Savings Plan, a retirement plan for federal employees and members of the uniformed services, to offer a “terror-free international investment option.”

U.S. sanctions against Iran are long-standing. A 1996 law forbids U.S. companies and individuals from investing in Iran’s oil industry. In 2001, the law was extended for five years last year, it was extended until 2011.

In February, the House Foreign Affairs Committee approved a bill that would clamp down on U.S. insurers, export credit agencies and U.S. companies with foreign subsidiaries that violate U.S. sanctions against Iran.

Strengthening such sanctions has become a popular bipartisan cause. At a January hearing, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, the ranking Republican on the panel, called Iran the “No. 1 state sponsor of terrorism,” and Lantos agreed that dealing with Iran was “among the most weighty foreign-policy problems we face…”