The House of Representatives on Wednesday cleared legislation that would enhance sanctions against Hezbollah and its supporters, The Hill reports.
In a 425-0 vote, the House approved slapping mandatory sanctions on banks found to be knowingly handling transactions with the Lebanon-based terrorist group. The Senate passed a companion bill authored by Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) by unanimous consent last month.
“We need to send a clear message to companies getting tangled up with this terrorist group. And that message is: Walk away, or face the consequences of the United States of America,” Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, was quoted as having said.
The measure would direct the Obama administration to report on the Lebanon-based terror group’s drug trafficking and organized crime activities, as well as outline its global support networks.
It would also require the administration to determine any telecommunications companies that contract with Hezbollah’s television station Al-Manar.
The United States, which blacklisted Hezbollah as a terrorist group, regularly sanctions members of the group.
Washington has in the past imposed sanctions on the group’s leader Hassan Nasrallah and two other members of the organization, for their alleged role in aiding the Syrian government in its crackdown on opposition forces.
However, it has also been revealed in the past that the U.S. government was providing indirect aid to Hezbollah in its fight against Sunni rivals including ISIS, as part of a wider strategic shift to cozy up to the terrorist group, which also includes intelligence-sharing.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) said that the measure passed on Wednesday would further send a message to the Iranian government, which has close ties to 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 national security,” he said, according to The Hill.