Jewish groups applauded this week’s House passage of two bills seeking to ratchet up the economic pressure on Iran because of its ongoing nuclear weapons program and one encouraging divestment from Sudan.
The Iran Sanctions Enabling Act of 2007 requires companies with more than $20 million invested in Iran’s energy industry to divest those funds and authorizes state and local governments to do the same. The measure also protects fund managers who divest from companies because of their involvement in Iran’s energy sector, according to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which made the measure a top priority.
A companion measure is pending in the Senate. On Tuesday, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Il.), a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, said quick passage would encourage more states
to act on divestment.
The second measure cleared by the House expands the range of businesses covered by current Iran sanctions laws.
The House also dealt a sanctions blow to Sudan with legislation barring companies that do business with the government of that country from winning federal contracts and urging states to enact similar measures.
While his group lauded the House action, Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, blasted an anonymous “hold’’ that has blocked the Sudan Divestment Authorization act in the Senate, an action he called “an inexcusable disgrace.”
“The people of Darfur cannot wait one more day while any of our Congressional representatives play cynical political games and one-upmanship,” Saperstein said in a letter to Senate leaders.