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Rep. Williams Debates Iran Bill on House Floor

Dec 14, 2017

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Roger Williams (R – Austin), who serves as a vice chairman on the House Committee on Financial Services, delivered a floor speech during the general debate on his bill, H.R. 4324, the Strengthening Oversight of Iran’s Access to Finance Act, that he introduced last month.

Williams' remarks below.

"Mr. Speaker, it is truly a privilege to speak in support of my bill, H.R. 4324, the Strengthening Oversight of Iran’s Access to Finance Act.

"Mr. Speaker, H.R. 4324 will improve Congressional oversight of any financing that Treasury authorizes for aircraft sales to Iran. Every six months, Treasury would need to certify to us that finance authorizations would not benefit an Iranian person that is transporting items for the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, nor providing transportation for sanctioned entities. Treasury would also have to certify to us that these authorizations don’t pose a significant money laundering or terrorism finance risk to the U.S. financial system, and that any banks engaging in this business have appropriate due diligence procedures in place. If the Treasury Department cannot make this certification, the Department must tell us why, and it must explain to Congress the course of action it intends to take. I’d note that my bill was reported out of the Financial Services committee last month by a vote of 38-21, with 5 of my democrat colleagues voting in favor.

"Many of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle will label this bill as a simple attempt to dismantle the Obama administration’s Iran Nuclear Deal. But, Mr. Speaker, this debate is not about U.S. commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA. It is not about re-imposing nuclear sanctions. It is not about prohibiting these aircraft sales, or the financing for these sales. What this legislation is about, is providing Congress with information on the implications of these deals, so that we can better understand their impact on the integrity of our financial system.

"I’d like to take a step back and discuss how we got to this point, and why this legislation is necessary. As most of you know, under the JCPOA – the Obama administration committed the United States to license the sale of commercial aircraft to Iran. In addition to providing licenses for aircraft sales; the licenses also allowed for banks to engage in the financing of these aircraft. All of this was permitted, despite the fact that Iran remained classified as a ‘jurisdiction of primary money laundering concern’ by the Treasury Department, and as the world’s ‘foremost state sponsor of terror’ by the State Department. 

"Let us be abundantly clear on the facts- it was the Obama Treasury department that highlighted the role that Iran and Iranian aircraft played in destabilizing activity across the middle-east, and in supporting the atrocities committed by rogue Assad regime in Syria.

"On September 9, 2012, David S. Cohen, Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence under President Obama released the following statement: ‘the identification of Iranian aircraft also further highlights Iran’s effort to support the Assad regimes WMD programs and crackdown against the Syrian people.’ This quote followed the Treasury department’s announcement to impose sanctions against entities that support the Assad regime in Syria.

"Quoting from the same September 9, 2012 treasury statement, “as a result of the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012, foreign financial institutions that knowingly engage in a significant transactions with…Iran Air, Mahan Air, or Yas Air, including any of the 117 aircraft operated by these airlines, risk losing access to the U.S. banking system.”

"Mr. Speaker, this week I received a memo from the National Iranian American Council, urging members to oppose my bill. This is the same council that opposes President Trump’s travel ban, which was recently upheld by a Supreme Court decision of 7 to 2, and the same organization that took concern with new sanctions imposed on Iran’s support for Hizbollah.

"This memo, and the pro-Iran principles that is represents, could not be a better endorsement for the Strengthening Oversight of Iran’s Access to Finance Act.

"I would ask this to my colleagues on both sides; at what point did we relegate ourselves to negotiating with those who wish us harm? At what point did we prioritize the interests of a rogue government that paints their bombs with sayings like ‘death to Israel’ and ‘death to America?’  

"There are simply two sides to this issue, you can either protect the interests of the United States, her citizens, and U.S. financial institutions, OR you can prioritize the wishes of the Ayatollah, and his Revolutionary Guard. Which side will you choose to be on?

"I represent the Red, White and Blue, and my commitment to the safety and wellbeing of these United States is unwavering.

"I urge my colleagues to do the same, and support H.R. 4324.

"I yield back."