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House Unanimously Passes Hezbollah Sanctions Bill

A bill that seeks to impose mandatory sanctions on banks that knowingly conduct business with Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Lebanese terror group, passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 425 – 0 on Wednesday, The Hill reported. The proposed legislation is now heading to the White House, where President Barack Obama is expected to sign it.

The measure would direct the Obama administration to report on the Lebanon-based terror group’s drug trafficking and organized crime activities, as well as outline its global support networks

It would also require the administration to determine any telecommunications companies that contract with Al-Manar, a TV station affiliated with Hezbollah.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Obama worked closely with members of Congress to draft the measure, which is titled the Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act of 2015.

Rep. Eliot Engel (D – N.Y.), the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, hailed the strong bipartisan support for the bill:

Thank you Mr. Speaker. The House first passed this bipartisan legislation on May 14th by a vote of 423 to zero. Now that’s as bipartisan as you can get. On November 17th, the Senate sent the bill back to us with a number of very modest changes. By passing it again today, we send it to the President’s desk.

I want to commend my friend, Chairman Royce, for being the driving force behind this very, very important bill. When Chairman Royce introduced this bill, I was glad to join as an original cosponsor. I also want to acknowledge Representatives Deutch, Meadows, and Meng for their hard work on this important legislation.

He noted that Hezbollah, a proxy of Iran, has often targeted Israel and is currently “doing all kinds of things that are detrimental to the world” in Syria on behalf of Iran.

Rep. Mark Meadows (R – N.C.), one of the bill’s co-sponsors in the House, added, “The United States cannot sit back idly and allow Hizbollah’s terrorist and criminal operations to continue unabated. Hizballah poses a direct threat to the United States and our allies abroad, particularly Israel. We must do all that we can in our power to stop Hizballah’s global terrorist reach.”

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D – N.H.) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R – Fla.), who sponsored the measure in the Senate, also hailed its passage. The bill passed the Senate unanimously last month.

“Hizballah has American blood on its hands and remains an ever-present threat to our national security and that of our allies, especially Israel,” Shaheen said. “This legislation will ensure that our government is comprehensively targeting Hizballah’s networks of support and holding its backers accountable. I urge the President to put these measures into effect as soon as possible.”

Rubio also called on the administration to “get to work right away in implementing” the provisions of the bill, saying, “America and our allies in the Middle East will be safer when we take these steps to weaken Hezbollah and, by extension, their Iranian masters. We know these sanctions will work because Hezbollah has already condemned them.”

[Photo: soccerdhg / Flickr ]