| WASHINGTON, June 23
WASHINGTON, June 23 The House Appropriations
Committee on Tuesday approved a $48.8 billion spending bill for
U.S. foreign policy and aid efforts, and tried to apply more
pressure on Iran after the violence that followed its disputed
The legislation includes $2.7 billion in foreign aid for
Afghanistan and $1.5 billion for Pakistan as they fight Taliban
militants. It also provides $2.2 billion for Israel, a close
U.S. ally, during the fiscal year 2010 which starts Oct. 1.
But the committee debate centered on trying to pressure
Iran, where huge crowds of demonstrators have flooded the
streets for days protesting that the re-election of Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad was fraudulent, a charge he has denied.
Lawmakers adopted an amendment that would prohibit the U.S.
Export-Import Bank from extending loans, credits or guarantees
to companies that supply Iran with gasoline or help the
country's domestic production.
"While students are murdered in the streets of Tehran, we
should not use taxpayer money to bolster the Iranian economy,"
said Republican Representative Mark Kirk of Illinois.
Kirk estimated that Iran imports some 40 percent of its
gasoline and almost all of it comes from Swiss firms Vitol and
Glencore International [GLEN.UL], the Swiss and Dutch firm
Trafigura, France's Total (TOTF.PA), BP (BP.L) and India's
Reliance Industries (RELI.BO).
Some Democrats argued that lawmakers should avoid
interfering with U.S. foreign policy on Iran because it could
give the Tehran government an opening to blame the United
States for meddling in its internal affairs.
"The smartest thing we can do right now is to stay out of
the Iranian revolution so it is the Iranians' revolution not
ours," said Democratic Representative Jim Moran.
He said the Export-Import Bank had already issued $900
million in loan guarantees for a Reliance Industries refinery,
which would not be producing gasoline for Iran.
However, Kirk said the plant provides roughly one-third of
Tehran's daily gas imports.
The Export-Import Bank loan amendment was attached to a
must-pass annual spending bill, but the language could change
or even be removed before it becomes law.
(Editing by Chris Wilson)