The Republican-led House International Relations committee on Wednesday, June 20, flew in the face of President George W. Bush's administration and voted to extend for five years sanctions on foreign firms investing in Iran and Libya.
The White House had been trying to keep the renewal to only two years, arguing that a five-year extension would unnecessarily hinder the administration from altering US policy toward Iran and Libya should Washington deem such changes warranted.
But the House committee, chaired by staunch Republican Henry Hyde, voted 41-3 to extend the sanctions through August 2006 against both countries, which Washington has designated state sponsors of terrorism.
The bill, aimed at preventing companies from investing any more than $20 million a year in either Iran or Libya, must now be voted on by the full House and could be brought to the floor before the July 4 holiday break.
Republican Doug Bereuter, who supported the defeated White House-supported two-year amendment, cited security concerns in the Middle East for moving forward with the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act but cautioned that five years might interfere with Bush's policy goals.
He said problems with the legislation could have been avoided if the original measure had been stronger in the first place. "Maybe we should have had a tougher bill in the first place."
But Democrat Gary Ackerman argued that opening up a dialogue with Iran would be the equivalent of opening discussions with Hitler or recently-executed US bomber Timothy McVeigh. ― (AFP, Washington)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)