House passes Iran sanctions bills

The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed two bills that would strengthen Iran sanctions.

A bill sponsored by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), the ranking member of the House’s Foreign Affairs Committee, extends existing sanctions on Iran’s energy sector to financial institutions invested in the sector and makes parent companies liable for sanctions. The bill, which passed on Tuesday by a vote of 415-11, is likely to be incorporated into broader sanctions legislation proposed by Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), the committee chairman.

Also passed Tuesday, by a vote of 408-6, was the Iran Sanctions Enabling Act. The act, sponsored by Financial Services Committee chairman Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Rep. Chris Shayes (R-Conn.), mandates the publication every six months of a list of companies invested in Iran’s energy and defense sectors in order to facilitate divestment from Iran by state pension funds. It also protects from lawsuits fund managers who divest from Iran.

The bill is aimed at spurring states to follow the example set by Florida, which this spring became the first state to divest from Iran. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee applauded its passage.

“By passing this important piece of legislation, Congress is aiming to deprive Iran of the money that it needs to pursue a nuclear weapons capability,” it said in a statement.

A parallel bill in the U.S. Senate is sponsored by Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) Obama, a frontrunner among Democratic presidential candidates.

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