The House passed a bill Thursday to prevent the lifting of sanctions on Iran before the country pays American victims of terrorism billions of dollars in damages.
The Justice for Victims of Iranian Terrorism Act passed 251-173, and would require Iran to pay $43.5 billion in U.S. court-ordered damages to terror victims, prior to receiving a potential $150 billion ‘signing bonus‘ when international sanctions are lifted.
Senate Republicans failed to get enough votes in September to block the nuclear deal, which lifts economic sanctions in exchange for the country delaying the expansion of its nuclear program.
Critics of the deal say the potential $150 billion windfall could go to fund terrorism. In fact, Iran has reportedly already agreed to a $21 billion deal with Russia for satellite and “space equipment.”
“When we say terrorism, what are we talking about?” said Republican Rep. Patrick Meehan, the bill’s sponsor. “We’re talking about Iranian-backed assassinations and bombings and attacks across the time zones — from Paris to Jerusalem to New York to Beirut to East Africa to Buenos Aires.”
House Democrats brush Iran’s state-sponsored terrorism and military ties to key U.S. rivals aside and assert the bill is more of a political stunt than an effort to help terror victims.
“Let’s be honest,” New York Rep. Eliot Engel said on the House floor. “This bill is not really about helping these victims. It’s about exploiting their plight and their tragedy to make a political splash.”
“Engel said Iran will have difficulty paying the victims until the country’s assets are unfrozen (which defeats the purpose of the House’s blocking the measure in the first place). We should not be using this for political purposes,” he said.
Meehan contended that if Iran can fund terror groups, the country is more than capable of turning over the money to terror victims.
The president said he will veto any legislation that would obstruct the successful implementation of the deal. The Senate is expected to take up the measure next week.
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