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Waters: Republicans Pass Reckless Iran Financing Bill, Leave Important Issues on the Table

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Washington, DC, July 14, 2016 | comments

As the House considered H.R. 4992, the so-called “United States Financial System Protection Act,” Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Committee on Financial Services, called out Republicans for rushing a harmful bill to the floor on the last day of session as part of their “reckless and politically driven ‘Iran week’ agenda.”

In floor remarks opposing the bill, Waters noted that it would violate the Iran nuclear deal by reapplying secondary sanctions that had been lifted as part of the agreement to allow Iran to conduct banking transactions outside the U.S.

“By denying the relief we committed to provide under the deal, we throw the continued viability of the JCPOA into question – thereby abandoning the best chance we have at preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon,” Waters said.

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

Mr. Chairman, this week Republicans have made it a top priority to bypass regular order and rush a number of measures to the floor as part of their reckless and politically driven “Iran Week” agenda that would put the United States in breach of our commitments under the Iran nuclear deal.

Concluded a year ago, the Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or the JCPOA, will prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear bomb for the foreseeable future. The agreement imposed tough restrictions on, and heavy monitoring of, Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for nuclear-related sanctions relief. To date, Iran has upheld its end of the deal, and I believe we have a responsibility to uphold our commitments as well.

The bill before us today, H.R. 4992, is just one of the measures under consideration this week that is aimed squarely at prohibiting Iran from experiencing the sanctions relief promised under the JCPOA.

As part of the Iran nuclear deal, the U.S. committed to lift secondary sanctions to allow Iran to conduct banking transactions outside the U.S. in return for Iran meeting its nuclear-related commitments, which was verified by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

H.R. 4992 would put the U.S. in direct violation of the JCPOA by reapplying these secondary sanctions that had been lifted as part of the agreement. Moreover, the bill would undermine the “good faith” commitment made by all parties under the JCPOA to uphold the letter, spirit, and intent of the agreement, and to refrain from action that would undermine its successful implementation.

By denying the relief we committed to provide under the deal, we throw the continued viability of the JCPOA into question – thereby abandoning the best chance we have at preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

In addition to violating our commitments under the JCPOA, H.R. 4992 does nothing to provide additional protection for the U.S. financial system. The bill’s proponents ignore the fact that our primary embargo on Iran remains in effect, and that the Administration is already taking robust measures to protect the U.S. financial system from access by Iran.

To the extent this bill is motivated by rumors that the Administration is preparing to grant Iran new access to the U.S. financial system beyond the scope of the JCPOA, I would point out that the Administration has said that these rumors are entirely unfounded. The Administration has also made clear that it has no intention of reinstating the “U-turn” authorization, which permits foreign firms to use the U.S. as a pass-through for facilitating transactions with Iran, or give Iran access to the U.S. financial system.

The President has officially stated he will veto this bill and any other legislation that prevents the successful implementation of the Iran nuclear deal.

We must ask ourselves, if we undermine this deal that we made, what comes next? More sanctions? It’s important to remember that the harsh nuclear-related sanctions that were previously in place did not prevent Iran from continuing to pursue a nuclear capability. A U.S.-led attack on Iran? I sincerely hope that we would work diligently to avoid this option.

Lastly, I’m opposed to this bill being brought directly to the floor without going through regular order. We did not hold a hearing or a mark-up in the Financial Services Committee on this legislation, denying Members the opportunity to fully consider its implications.

We cannot renege on our commitment to uphold the JCPOA – a significant effort to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear bomb. Violating the agreement would not only undermine U.S. national security, but also our ability to lead on any international negotiations aimed at peace in the future.

I urge my colleagues to join me in opposing H.R. 4992. Thank you.

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