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SURPRISE AMERICA: US Taxpayers could pay for Iran’s purchase of US-manufactured planes

“House Rejects Measure to Bar Ex-Im Financing for Terrorism Sponsors,” by Lachlan Markay, Washington Free Beacon, November 5, 2015:


Taxpayers could end up footing the bill for Iran’s purchase of American-manufactured planes thanks to legislation passed on Thursday that critics say facilitates U.S. support for an Iranian commercial airline sector frequently used in service of its international terrorist proxies.

If it materializes, that support would likely advance the interests of a major U.S. airline manufacturer that is eyeing business opportunities in Iran, has reported lobbying on the Iran deal, and has already benefitted tremendously from the controversial export finance agency at issue.

The House of Representatives on Thursday approved a highway support bill that reauthorizes funding for the U.S. Export-Import Bank, which finances the purchase of U.S. exports by foreign governments and corporations.

The day before, it rejected an amendment to the legislation that would have prohibited Ex-Im financing for governments that the State Department classifies as state sponsors of terrorism. There are three countries currently on that list: Syria, Sudan, and Iran.

The amendment’s opponents said it was unnecessary and duplicative of existing law. But its sponsor, Ed Royce (R., Calif.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, explained in a floor speech that the recent Iranian nuclear deal could allow the Obama administration to circumvent existing prohibitions on Ex-Im support for the Islamic Republic.

“These common sense prohibitions are subject to presidential waivers and we have seen the president abuse waivers to pursue his agenda over and over again on Iran no matter what Congress thinks,” Royce said in a Wednesday speech on the House floor.

According to a report on the Iran deal’s sanctions relief measures from the Congressional Research Service, the president has the authority to waive four different executive orders prohibiting Ex-Im financing of Iranian purchases of U.S. goods.

Loopholes in other laws prohibiting Ex-Im support for Iran “could result in aid being made available” through the bank, the report said.

On Wednesday evening, Ex-Im officials sent a letter to Royce saying that they would not pursue a waiver to prohibitions on financing for Iran. A spokesman said that Royce would seek legislative assurances on that front.

“The House Foreign Affairs Committee will continue to pursue options to ensure this is permanent and statutory,” said Cory Fritz in an emailed statement.

Opponents of the nuclear deal worry that the president’s commitment to improving relations with the country might precipitate a waiver that would allow that financing.

“The [deal’s] public and non-public texts commit the United States to facilitating Iran’s economic normalization and growth,” said a senior official at a group involved in the legislative fight over the Iran deal.

“Short of an explicit statute with no waivers

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