The US House of Representatives passed a sanctions bill Wednesday that would enhance sanctions against the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah and its supporters.
In a 425-0 vote, lawmakers approved mandatory sanctions on banking institutions that knowingly conduct transactions for the terror group. A similar bill in the Senate, authored by Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), was unanimously passed last month.
“We need to send a clear message to companies getting tangled up with this terrorist group,” Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), the top Democrat in the House Foreign Affairs Committee, was quoted by The Hill as saying. “And that message is: Walk away, or face the consequences of the United States of America.”
The new bill is meant to instruct the Obama administration on reporting measures of Hezbollah’s activities, including drug trafficking and organized crime around the world. Companies that conduct business with Hezbollah’s television station, Al-Manar, would also come under scrutiny.
According to House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA), the new bill is also meant to send a warning to the Iranian regime, a known sponsor of Hezbollah.
“This legislation represents an important first step in pushing back against Iran and Hezbollah and repairing the damage that the administration’s sanctions relief for Iran has done to our nation security,” Royce stated.
The sanctions outlined by the new bill will be terminated only after Hezbollah is no longer blacklisted by the US government as a terrorist organization.
The White House worked closely with lawmakers to draft the sanctions bill, The Jerusalem Post reported, which received broad bi-partisan support. US President Barack Obama is expected to sign the bill into law imminently.
“The president will sign this bill,” a senior administration official told The Jerusalem Post. “For many years we have worked with Congress to intensify the pressure against the Hezbollah terrorist organization, and we look forward to working closely with them in implementing these new authorities.”