Iran's President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a news conference in Islamabad, Pakistan, March 26, 2016. REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood/File Photo(reuters_tickers)
By Patricia Zengerle
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. House of Representatives panel will debate legislation on Thursday intended to block Boeing Co's planned sale of dozens of commercial aircraft to Iran, which could also affect other planemakers, including Airbus if they became law.
A Financial Services subcommittee will debate three measures, including one that would prohibit the U.S. Treasury from licensing the sale announced last month. Another would bar the Treasury secretary for authorizing transactions by U.S. financial institutions connected to the export of aircraft.
A third measure would bar the Export-Import Bank from financing involving any entity that does business with Iran or provides financing to another entity to facilitate transactions with Iran.
"I am extremely concerned that by relaxing the rules, the Obama administration has allowed U.S. companies to be complicit in weaponising the Iranian regime," Representative Bill Huizenga, chairman of the Monetary Policy and Trade Subcommittee, said in a statement on Wednesday.
If the bills became law, they would affect other firms' sales to Iran because virtually all modern jets have more than 10 percent U.S. content, the threshold for requiring export licenses.
A House committee aide said the full financial services committee was likely to approve the bills, but a vote had not yet been scheduled. However, the measures showed the extent of concern by Republicans, who control majorities in both the House and Senate, about the Iran deal and the potential Boeing sale.
Democrats, including President Barack Obama, are expected to oppose the legislation.
While most congressional Democrats backed the Iran deal announced a year ago, every Republican U.S. lawmaker opposed the pact in which the United States and international partners agreed to ease crippling economic sanctions in exchange for Tehran curtailing its nuclear programme.
When news of the Boeing deal emerged, several Republicans in Congress worried that it could threaten U.S. national security. Asked about those concerns last month, a Boeing executive noted last month that the Obama administration considered implementation of the nuclear pact "critical" to national security.
A "memorandum of agreement" (MOA) calls for IranAir to buy a total of 80 aircraft from Boeing and lease a further 29 with Boeing's support. Deliveries of the purchased jets are scheduled to start in 2017 and run through 2025.
An Iranian official told Reuters some officials in Tehran are concerned about the legislation, arguing that if such measures become law they could endanger implementation of the nuclear deal by intensifying pressure on Iran President Hassan Rouhani to take a harder line in his dealings with the United States and its allies.
(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle, additional reporting by Parisa Hafezi in Ankara, editing by G Crosse)