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Prohibiting the Secretary of the Treasury from Authorizing Certain Transactions Relating to Commercial Passenger Aircraft to Iran

Floor Speech

Date: Nov. 16, 2016
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. HECK of Washington. The key change made by this amendment is to strike the phrase ``ordinarily incident to'' and insert ``in connection with.'' One is a term of art commonly used by the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control, or OFAC. Companies doing business with an OFAC license know what that means.
In connection with is a much broader term, not clearly defined, Mr. Speaker, and if this amendment were to pass, exactly how attenuated of a connection would be impermissible?
Crickets, because we don't know.

I believe the chilling effect of this language would go far beyond the purported intent of this legislation. And let there be no confusion what the intent is, which is to block a single legal, fully compliant, and scandal-free business transaction that supports both our national security and American manufacturing.

If this bill became law, we would be less safe. The U.S. specifically committed in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or the Iran Deal, as we refer to it, to allow the sale of commercial aircraft to Iran, as well as the provision of associated services. Associated services is specifically defined in the relevant section of the agreement to include financial services of the kind U.S. banks would be specifically blocked from providing under this bill.

Well, it is hard to think of anything that would be a clearer violation of our own commitments under the JCPOA, an action that would give Iran a meaningful reason to walk away from the whole thing, making us less safe. It is a clear, black-and-white violation of the JCPOA.

And what is our plan B if Congress provokes the collapse of this agreement? Crickets. We don't have one.
Think of how much went into the successful negotiation of the agreement. We had to convince a lot of countries, with whom we don't often always agree, to maintain a united front for U.N. sanctions to be effective.
If we choose to burn down the JCPOA, which this will do, entirely of our own volition, are my colleagues under any illusion that we could simply go back to our partners, not to mention Iran, and say with a straight face: Well, let's start over.

And why wouldn't Iran just happily revel in the unraveling of the mighty international coalition which brought them to the table and go back to building up its nuclear program again?
Again, crickets, because they would be likely to.

So let's be clear. Yes, we continue to have numerous and serious differences with Iran. But as we counter their destabilizing behavior in other parts of the Middle East, I know I sleep better at night knowing that the Iran deal prevents them from obtaining a nuclear bomb with which to set off either a regional arms race or threaten our allies with nuclear blackmail.

And frankly, if Iran is going to get new planes--and nothing in this bill will stop them, the choice is really not whether it is going to be Boeing or Airbus--I sleep better at night knowing that you have got American eyes on that plane in the form of the after-sale services for parts repair and American hands doing the maintenance to guard against the diversion from legitimate civil aviation use. It keeps us more safe if these are American-made planes.

But even if we ignore all the compelling evidence that this bill will make us less safe, this bill fails spectacularly at preventing Iran from buying airplanes. In fact, I am certain it would hurt our own aerospace industry way more than it would hurt Iran.

It is easy for foreign companies to get around this bill. They easily go to non-U.S. banks for financing. But American companies don't have that option to cut out U.S. banks entirely, unless you prefer that the proceeds from a sale be kept offshore, that American workers and communities never see a dime of reinvestment, and the more than 100,000 jobs this transaction could support go to other countries.

This bill is also an attack on a key pillar of support for our exporters, including the aerospace exporters, namely, the Ex-Im Bank.

Despite the fact that the Ex-Im Bank already has a policy against this, despite the fact that there is law against this, despite the fact that the Ex-Im has said they won't do this, and despite the fact that the seller, Boeing, has said in writing they won't do this.

This isn't belts and suspenders. This is stapling your pants to your flesh.

Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to reject this bill that undermines foundational elements of our national and economic security, and, in so doing, I too am reminded of what President Reagan once said: ``It's not what you don't know that bothers me, it's what you think you know that ain't so.''

Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.