U.S. House Votes to Stop Sales of Boeing Jetliners to Iran

Updated on
  • Republican bill focuses on company’s ability to finance sales
  • Move reflects GOP’s anger over deal lifting Iran sanctions

The House voted Thursday to effectively block Boeing Co. from selling or leasing jetliners to Iran, reflecting broad Republican opposition to the Obama administration’s Iran nuclear deal that allows the transaction involving 109 aircraft worth as much as $25 billion.

The 243-174 vote was largely along party lines and comes despite a White House veto threat. The measure would prevent the Treasury Department from authorizing U.S. bank transactions for sales of aircraft to Iran and would bar the U.S. Export-Import Bank from financing any exports to that country.

Boeing shares dropped on the news, falling 1.8 percent to $145.40 at 12:50 pm.

“The world’s greatest state sponsor of terror should not be aided by the U.S. taxpayer, by our banking system, in order to finance planes that we really don’t know they’re going to do with them,” Republican Representative Bob Dold of Illinois said Wednesday on the House floor.

Republicans in Congress strongly oppose the 2015 agreement between the U.S. and five other nations, including Russia, that is designed to stop Tehran from developing nuclear weapons. Iran agreed to redesign and reduce its nuclear facilities in exchange for relief from economic sanctions. Opposition in Congress gained traction with the election victory of President-elect Donald Trump, who has said he wants to tear up or renegotiate the deal.

Boeing won U.S. approval in September to sell its first jetliners to Iran in nearly 40 years. The Treasury Department’s decision paved the way for the biggest business deal between the U.S. and Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution and the U.S. hostage crisis.

Boeing’s last airplane deliveries to Iran consisted of 747 jumbos that arrived in 1977, two years before the revolution, according to the company’s website.

Earlier this week, the House passed a bill, H.R. 6297, that also pushes back against the international accord by extending economic sanctions against Iran through 2026. The administration has waived the sanctions as part of the implementation of the nuclear agreement.

There’s little reason to think the measure passed Thursday, H.R. 5711, will advance much further during this congressional session. Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, introduced a similar bill that would block the Ex-Im Bank from providing financing related to Iran. The measure, S. 3138, hasn’t gotten a vote in the Senate Banking Committee.

Veto Threat

The White House said in a statement this week that Obama would veto the House measure. It is “profoundly in the national security interest of the United States” to keep commitments made in the Iran nuclear accord as long as Tehran keeps its promises, the administration’s statement said.

The administration said the restriction on Ex-Im financing was unacceptable.

“The sweeping and vague nature of this provision would have a chilling effect on U.S. and non-U.S. entities seeking to engage in permissible business with Iran,” the White House said.

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