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shipping sanctions

House approves new Iran oil sanctions

The House passed the SHIP Act on Friday, which targets those who transport and process Iranian oil

A picture taken on November 10, 2019, shows an Iranian flag in Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant, during an official ceremony to kick-start works on a second reactor at the facility.

ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images

A picture taken on November 10, 2019, shows an Iranian flag in Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant, during an official ceremony to kick-start works on a second reactor at the facility.

The House voted 342-69 on Friday in favor of the Stop Harboring Iranian Petroleum (SHIP) Act, a package of new Iran sanctions targeting the country’s oil production introduced by Reps. Mike Lawler (R-NY) and Jared Moskowitz (D-FL).

All but one of the votes against the bill came from Democrats, including senior caucus members Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Greg Meeks (D-NY) and Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC). Rep. Hillary Scholten (D-MI) said she voted against the bill by accident.

The bill aims to slash Iranian oil revenues, which hit record highs earlier this year and serve as a major source of income for the regime, helping to fund terrorism and other malign activities. It would apply new sanctions on ports that accept sanctioned vessels and anyone who refines, offloads, sells, transports or transfers Iranian oil. The sanctions are targeted squarely at China, the largest importer of Iranian oil.

During a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on the bill, Democrats had raised concerns that the sanctions included in the bill were so broad as to potentially cripple the global shipping industry, impair U.S. relationships with its allies and spike gas prices.

Even some Democrats who supported the legislation expressed concerns about the scope of the sanctions included, and argued that impact would be muted if the sanctions are not made multilateral.

“In today’s interconnected economy, where China is a major player and trading partner of the United States, we cannot be shielded from economic impacts these sanctions might cause,” Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL), a co-sponsor of the bill, said on the House floor last week. He also said that the sanctions cannot be “an end in themselves” and that he’d hope to see the presidential waiver provisions — ”one of the strictest standards that can be found in law” — loosened in conference negotiations with the Senate.

On Nov. 7, the Foreign Affairs Committee is set to meet to advance more Middle East-focused legislation to the House floor, including a bill to formally re-freeze the Iranian funds released in administration’s hostage deal, a bill to impose sanctions on producers of the stimulant Captagon — including members of the Syrian government and Hezbollah — and a bill to require the secretary of state to notify Congress when senior members of the Department of State have their security clearances suspended or revoked.

The latter measure comes months after Iran envoy Rob Malley was put on leave and had his clearance suspended pending an investigation.

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