House overwhelmingly passes Iran review act


WASHINGTON (JTA) — The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a bill requiring congressional review of any nuclear deal with Iran.

The bill approved Thursday 400-25 allows Congress up to 52 days to reject any sanctions relief for the nuclear activity rollback deal between Iran and the major powers. Congress could scuttle such a deal by keeping sanctions in place.

The House leadership would not allow amendments to the bill that would have set in place requirements for such a deal.

Some Republicans, heeding Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, wanted to stipulate that any deal approved by Congress must include an Iranian agreement to end support for terrorism as well as an Iranian recognition of Israel, among other measures.

Instead, like a similar bill passed last week by the Senate, 98-1, the bill allows for a simple up or down vote on a deal. Iran and the major powers are due to arrive at a deal by June 30.

President Barack Obama, who had opposed what he termed the “poison pill” requirements, has said he will enact the bill as it is now configured.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee praised the bill’s passage but said it still had concerns about the emerging deal.

“These concerns include the issues of infrastructure dismantlement, pace of sanctions relief, disclosure of prior weaponization efforts, inspections procedures and the duration of restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program,” AIPAC said in a statement.

“The Iran review legislation assures Congress a means to scrutinize and evaluate how these issues are addressed in any nuclear weapons agreement,” it said.

Separately, the House also passed a bill that would punish foreign financial institutions that deal with Hezbollah, the Iranian-allied militia in Lebanon that is deemed by the United and Israel to be a terrorist group.

“The Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act of 2015 will force financial institutions around the world to choose between facilitating Hezbollah’s terror or accessing the American banking system,” Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), the ranking Democrat on the House Middle East subcommittee, said after its passage.

Hezbollah and its affiliate entities already face sanctions under U.S. law.

Also sponsoring the legislation were Reps. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), its top-ranking Democrat.

The Senate has yet to take up a similar bill. Attempts in previous Congresses to pass similar bills did not make it through the system.

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