Wednesday, August 01, 2007

House Passes HR 2347

On July 31, 2007, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 2347, The Iran Sanctions Enabling Act, by a vote of 408-6, despite opposition from the Secretaries of State and Treasury.

The bill will establish a federal list of companies that have direct investments in Iran’s energy sector and remove specific legal barriers to enable mutual fund and corporate pension fund managers to cut ties with these listed companies if they choose to do so. The bill also provides federal authority for state and local governments that choose to divest their public pension funds and calls on the U.S. government to list companies with more than $20 million invested in Iran's energy sector.

Linking the Sudan and Iran divestment bills, Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), H.R. 2347’s sponsor, said, “I am disappointed by the Bush administration's opposition to both of these bills, and I am pleased that the House has passed them with well above the number of votes that would be necessary to override any vetoes.”

Under the bill, private sector and state and local government money managers who decide to divest from companies on the list would be protected from lawsuits. The bill could affect large public pension funds and several states, including California, Florida and Ohio have already introduced divestment legislation.

The Congressional Research Service recently found more than $100 billion in energy investments in Iran since 1999 by foreign firms like France's Total, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Italy's ENI and Japan's Inpex Holdings Inc.

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