President Barack Obama is seeking to allow the multi-billion dollar sale of civilian aircraft to the Islamic Republic of Iran. Congress, however, is expected to pass legislation today that would prohibit the sale. Among the corporations affected is Boeing, which seeking to realize the sale. According to the Free Beacon, Republicans in the House of Representatives want to make this the first bill to reach the floor post-election. They hope to make it a victory for President-elect Donald Trump. Obama is expected to veto the proposed legislation.
The $17 billion sale is possible due to the Obama administration’s deal that was struck with Iran that freed up the oil giant’s assets that have been frozen for decades, ever since the 1979 Iranian Revolution.
Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) has long been a severe critic of the deal. His bill would prohibit the Export-Import of the U.S. from financing the sale of civilian aircraft to Iran. At stake is about $17 billion in aircraft sales to Iran. While Republicans have expressed fears that the sale would actually provide further weapons to Iran, Democrats have questioned the patriotism of Republicans who are blocking the sale and the resulting jobs and profit in the U.S. Iran has a history of weaponizing civilian aircraft. Roskam told the Free Beacon that Boeing would be effectively “enhancing the military capabilities” of a state-sponsor of terrorism.
The White House has released a statement, saying: “The bill would undermine the ability of the United States to meet our JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] commitments by effectively prohibiting the United States from licensing the sale of commercial passenger aircraft to Iran for exclusively civil end uses, as we committed to do in the JCPOA, and seeking to deter companies from pursuing permissible business with Iran.” The sale would be the first such since the 1970s.
The Obama administration approved Boeing's sale of 80 jetliners to Iran Air. The sale would include airframes such as the famed 747. Also included are 29 aircraft that Boeing will source from other countries. Based in Europe, Airbus has also won contracts to sell aircraft in the wake of the Iran nuclear deal.
Republican Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy vowed last week that legislation regarding the sale will be brought to the floor this week. According to Financial Services Committee Chairman Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), is "about taking every possible step to ensure that American-made aircraft are never used in pursuit of ending the lives of Americans or our allies." One of the bills involved was introduced by Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-MI) and would forbid the federal Treasury Department from approving any financing related to the export of commercial aircraft to Iran. Companion legislation has been introduced in the Senate by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).
There is some dissonance within the Democratic caucus over the Boeing business. Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) has vocally opposed the sale, while Rep. Earl Blumenauer
(D-OR) has just as vocally advocated for it.