H.R. 4324: Strengthening Oversight of Iran’s Access to Finance Act
This was a vote to pass H.R. 4324 in the House.
H.R. 4324 is an attempt to deny Iran access to civil aircraft that could be converted to military uses. It follows accusations from the U.S. government that Iran is violating United Nations resolutions forbidding it from exporting arms to Middle Eastern terrorist groups and militias. H.R. 4324 would require the Treasury Department to report to Congress on any financial transactions that included commercial passenger aircraft sales to Iran. The audit is supposed to describe any risks the aircraft sold in the past year could be used to transport weapons, help militias commit human rights violations or launder money in a way that poses a risk to the U.S. financial system. The Obama administration lifted some embargo restrictions against Iran last year under the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action. They included an authorization for sales of 200 civilian aircraft. More recently, U.S. intelligence sources reported Iran Air has used civilian planes to transport rockets, missiles and other military cargo on behalf of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and operated flights to Syria using weapons resupply routes.
H.R. 1638: Iranian Leadership Asset Transparency Act
This was a vote to pass H.R. 1638 in the House.
This bill requires the Treasury Department to publish a list of personal assets of Iranian leaders to publicly reveal how money they acquired through embezzlement and corruption might be used to support international terrorism. The bill is directed most specifically at the assets of the Supreme Leader of Iran Ali Khamenei. Passage of the bill coincides with calls in Congress for investigations of how about 70 Iranian leaders suspected of supporting terrorism are spending their money. The bill’s main author was Bruce Poliquin, R-Maine, who said in a statement, “This bill will allow the world to see how the top leadership in Iran facilitates human rights abuse through funding pilfered from the Iranian people. It will allow financial institutions to see in public form the type of assets associated with these individuals and hopefully better focus anti-money laundering efforts.” The bill also requires the Treasury Department to develop a detailed list of movable and immovable property of Iran’s top political and military leaders, which would be published on the Department’s website. Poliquin said about the Iranian leadership, “They simply cannot be trusted.”
H.R. 3971: Community Institution Mortgage Relief Act of 2017
This was a vote to pass H.R. 3971 in the House.
This bill seeks to lessen the regulatory burden on community banks prompted by the financial crisis that started in 2008. H.R. 3971 rolls back the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rule that requires small banks to set up escrow accounts for high-risk borrowers. Escrow accounts were supposed to ensure borrowers always would have enough money set aside to pay expenses like taxes and insurance. The bill’s sponsors say the rule is too costly for small banks, raising their loan rates and contributing to driving some of them out of business. They also say it gives an advantage to large banks that spread their resources over larger financial reserves than their smaller competitors. The Community Institution Mortgage Relief Act exempts community banks from the escrow requirement if loans are held by financial institutions with reserves of no more than $10 billion. It also requires banks to hold the loans for at least three years. It gives loan servicing exemptions to banks with fewer than 20,000 mortgages.
H.R. 1730: Combating Anti-Semitism Act of 2017
This was a vote to pass H.R. 1730 in the House.
H.R. 1730 would increase penalties for bomb threats and other threats of violence against religious institutions. The threats could be prosecuted as hate crimes. The bill also increases the criminal punishment for damaging religious institutions’ property by fire or explosives from one year to three years in prison. The bill is an amendment to the Church Arson Prevention Act. The bill defines “real religious property” to include property leased by religious institutions, such as religious community centers. Part of the motivation for the bill came from recent Anti-Defamation League numbers showing anti-Semitic incidents in the United States increased by 86 percent in the first three months of 2017. The incidents included vandalism, cemetery desecrations and bomb threats against community centers. This legislation adds a new dimension to criminal liability by saying anyone who makes violent threats against religious institutions can be prosecuted for obstructing people from practicing their right to exercise their religious beliefs.
H.R. 2706: Financial Institution Customer Protection Act of 2017
This was a vote to pass H.R. 2706 in the House
H.R. 2706 sets rules to terminate bank accounts when the account holders are suspected of fraudulent activity. It seeks to avoid arbitrary decisions by federal regulators who order banks to terminate accounts. Instead, the rules of H.R. 2706 are supposed to ensure due process is followed before shutting off account holders’ access to deposited money. Banking agencies would be required to give Congress annual reports on the number of accounts they caused to be closed and the legal authority they claimed. The bill is an outgrowth of Operation Choke Point, a Justice Department initiative to combat consumer fraud by blocking corrupt businesses from access to the financial system. Examples include Ponzi schemes, debt consolidation scams and sales of drug paraphernalia.