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At Markup, Waters Opposes GOP Efforts to Undermine Iran Nuclear Deal

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Washington, DC, July 13, 2016 | comments

In opening remarks during a Financial Services Committee markup today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), the Committee’s Ranking Member, expressed concern with legislation that would violate or undermine the U.S.’s commitments under the Iran nuclear deal.

“We are considering two pieces of legislation today that would have serious consequences for our ability to uphold the Iran nuclear deal and a third bill which reflects the latest in a long string of baseless and politically motivated attacks on the Export-Import Bank,” Waters said.

“It’s quite troubling to me that despite all the evidence that Iran has upheld its end of the deal, this Committee would rush to markup legislation that would put the U.S. in violation of our commitments under the JCPOA,” Waters said.

She also said she has strong concerns about setting restrictions on Ex-Im financing in stone, and noted the absurdity of discussing whether Ex-Im will finance transactions to Iran “while ignoring the fact that as long as opponents of the Bank continue to block Ex-Im from having an operating quorum, the Ex-Im Bank won’t be engaged in supporting the export of U.S. aircraft to any country, let alone Iran.”

Full text of the statement, as prepared for delivery, is below:

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

We are considering two pieces of legislation today that would have serious consequences for our ability to uphold the Iran nuclear deal and a third bill which reflects the latest in a long string of baseless and politically motivated attacks on the Export-Import Bank.

One bill we are considering today would unequivocally put us in violation of our commitment under the Iran nuclear deal to license the sale of commercial passenger aircraft to non-sanctioned parties. Another measure would further undermine our commitment under the deal by prohibiting U.S. financial institutions from facilitating those sales.

With regard to these bills, it’s quite troubling to me that despite all the evidence that Iran has upheld its end of the deal, this Committee would rush to markup legislation that would put the U.S. in violation of our commitments under the JCPOA.

By denying the tangible benefits promised as part of the deal to the Iranian people, we undermine the reformers who came to the negotiating table and strengthen the hand of the hardliners. And by throwing the continued viability of the JCPOA into question, we risk eviscerating the best chance we have at preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

I am particularly struck that these bills completely ignore the fact that the JCPOA already accounts for the risk of misuse by Iran. In fact, there’s a separate aviation “snapback” provision in the JCPOA that revokes this aspect of relief if the U.S. finds that airplanes or parts are being used for military purposes.

Moreover, the deal provides that such risk can and should be managed by effective due diligence and through the licensing conditions imposed by the Treasury Department.

I would also note that Iran has one of the worst civilian aviation records in the world, so there is a humanitarian aspect to these sales as well. Since 1990, there have been over 200 airline accidents and 2,000 deaths. The risk of death on an Iranian airline is 100 times higher than the risk to a passenger flying on one of the world’s other major airlines.

A third bill we are marking up today seeks to suggest that the Ex-Im Bank will somehow get involved in supporting exports to Iran. This is despite the fact that it has not done so since the 1970s; current restrictions in law make clear that it won’t do so as long as Iran is a state sponsor of terror; and the Bank’s own Chairman has further made clear that the Bank is not “getting into Iran.”

While the bill solidifies the Bank’s current prohibitions and practices with regard to Iran, I have strong concerns that it also sets these restrictions in stone.

Moreover, I find it absurd that we are talking about whether Ex-Im will finance transactions to Iran while ignoring the fact that as long as opponents of the Bank continue to block Ex-Im from having an operating quorum, the Ex-Im Bank won’t be engaged in supporting the export of U.S. aircraft to any country, let alone Iran.

So I would urge Members to reject efforts to put the U.S. in breach of the Iran nuclear deal before we have the chance to fully implement it, and would reiterate my concern about putting restrictions in place indefinitely.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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