U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen blasts House vote to shoot down Boeing's huge Iran deal

Nov 18, 2016 Issues: Transportation & Infrastructure

Puget Sound Business Journal: U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen blasts House vote to shoot down Boeing's huge Iran deal
By Andrew McIntosh

U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen blasted his fellow lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives who voted Thursday to block Boeing's big jetliner sale to Iran.

Larsen, the Democrat who represents Washington state's 2nd Congressional District, said lawmakers who want to shoot down the Iran Air deal are helping Boeing rival Airbus.

“This bill is the first step of this new administration and this Republican Congress to destroy manufacturing and manufacturing jobs in this country,” said Larsen, a ranking member on the House Subcommittee on Aviation. “By prohibiting the Department of the Treasury from authorizing transactions of commercial aircraft to the Republic of Iran, the bill writes a check to our competitors in Europe.”

Chicago-based Boeing (NYSE: BA) has not disclosed the value of the 80-jet order to help Iran modernize its aging aircraft fleet. The deal would be worth $25 billion at list prices and includes 34 wide-body jets made in the Puget Sound region.

Lawmakers who oppose the deal say Iran is a sponsor of terrorism in Syria and a backer of Hezbollah.

Larsen made his remarks in a prepared statement after voting against H.R. 5711, which aims to stop the Department of the Treasury from authorizing financial transactions related to the export or re-export of commercial passenger aircraft to Iran.

The House voted 243 to 174 in favor of the bill. If it becomes law, U.S. banks would be unable to help Iran finance the planes.

The bill has not been voted on by the Senate. President Barack Obama has vowed to veto any such bill while he's still in office.

Boeing and Iran Air have not signed a final contract. Earlier this week, Boeing declined to discuss the ongoing negotiations or say whether its officials are working with the Obama administration to accelerate the sale to Iran before President-elect Donald Trump takes office in mid-January.

"It will happen when it happens,” Boeing Commercial Airplanes public policy spokesman Tim Neale saoid.

If the Trump administration changes U.S. policy toward Iran and forbids the jet sales, Boeing would respect that, Neale said.

After the vote, the aircraft manufacturer appeared surprised by the effort to kill the deal.

"We are following the U.S. government’s guidance in dealing with US government-approved Iranian airlines, and will continue to do so," Boeing Commercial Airplanes spokesman Paul Bergman said in a prepared statement. "It’s premature to speculate on the outcome of possible legislation or policy."

Airbus also received U.S. permission to sell jets to Iran, a move that was required because about 30 percent of the parts in Airbus jets are made in the U.S. and cannot be exported to the Islamic Republic of Iran without a license.