Schneider’s Hezbollah sanctions bill passes House

U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Deerfield. | File
U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Deerfield. | File

In an era day when Congressional gridlock makes passage of legislation difficult, Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Deerfield) saw a unanimous vote on the second bill he has authored since he took office in 2013.

Schneider’s Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act, created to curb the group’s ability to commit terrorist acts and coauthored with Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), got a 404-0 vote Tuesday, July 22, in the House of Representatives and will move to the Senate for action there.

“This is a good step but we still need the Senate to pass this thing,” Schneider said. “I will do anything I can to help.”

Hezbollah is considered a terrorist group by the United States and the European Union, according to Schneider. It was responsible for bombing United States Marine barracks in 1983 in Lebanon, when 241 American troops were killed.

When members of the House debated the bill, there was praise for the bipartisan effort. Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), the senior member of his party on the Foreign Affairs Committee, complimented the work of Schneider and Meadows.

“It is an example of the bipartisan cooperation we have on the Foreign Affairs Committee so we speak with one voice and say we will never accept the scourge of terrorism,” Engel said on the House floor. “Mr. Schneider and Mr. Meadows have made sure this is a responsible and targeted bill focused on cutting off Hezbollah’s financial lifeline without unintended consequences.”

Schneider should be getting a lot of help in the Senate. There are nearly enough cosponsors of this version of the legislation in the upper chamber to assure passage.

“(Sen.) Marco Rubio (R-FL) and (Sen.) Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) have joined us in the Senate and there are 47 cosponsors,” Schneider said. “There could be more.” One of them is Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Highland Park) who did respond to a request for a comment before deadline.

The bill sanctions foreign financial institutions dealing with Hezbollah, goes after television providers that broadcast the organization’s station and seeks a determination whether the group can be considered a narcotics trafficker or significant transnational criminal organization, according to Schneider. He hopes the law will humble Hezbollah, as similar provisions did in Iran.

“Sanctions worked against Iran,” Schneider said, explaining that it brought the country to the table for ongoing negotiations aimed at preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

This is not the first time Schneider, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has authored a bill that was approved by all of his colleagues. Late last year his Israel Qualitative Military Edge Enhancement Bill got a 399-0 nod. It is still pending in the Senate, however, and Schneider said he is trying to work with members of that chamber, too.

The United States has long assured Israel with a qualitative military advantage over other countries in the Middle East, but Schneider’s bill will shorten the U.S. assessment period from four years to two.

“The rate of change has gotten so fast,” he said.

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