* Vote comes day after Obama announced fresh Iran sanctions
* Measure still needs Senate vote, Obama signature
(Updates with result of House vote, adds analyst comment)
By Roberta Rampton
WASHINGTON, Aug 1 The U.S. House of
Representatives p asse d a new package of sanctions against Iran
on Wednesday that aim to punish banks, insurance companies and
shippers that help Tehran sell its oil.
The legislation, agreed to by senior lawmakers of both
parties in Congress, "seeks to tighten the chokehold on the
regime beyond anything that has been done before," said
Republican Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chair of the
House Foreign Affairs Committee.
It builds on oil trade sanctions signed into law by
President Barack Obama in December that have prompted Japan,
South Korea, India and others to slash their purchases of
"There is more we can do, more that we will do if Iran
doesn't end its nuclear weapons program verifiably and
completely," said Representative Howard Berman, the top Democrat
on the foreign affairs panel.
T he House voted 421-6 to send the measure to the Senate,
where a vote has not yet been scheduled. T he vote was expected
to be held before lawmakers leave at the end of the week for an
The bill was endorsed by the American Israel Public Affairs
Committee, a powerful pro-Israel lobby group, which said the
measure when coupled with existing U.S. sanctions "represents
the strongest set of sanctions to isolate any country in the
world during peacetime."
The bill was opposed by Representatives Ron Paul, a
Republican, and Dennis Kucinich, a Democrat, who said on the
House floor it would push the United States closer to war with
If the measure is passed by the House and Senate, Obama
would still need to sign it. White House officials said on
Tuesday they were reviewing the bill.
Obama announced U.S. sanctions on Tuesday against foreign
banks that help Iran sell its oil, specifically citing China's
Bank of Kunlun and an Iraqi bank.
The sanctions followed criticism from Republican
presidential challenger Mitt Romney that the White House is
failing to act strongly enough to stop Iran's suspected pursuit
of nuclear weapons. Iran says its nuclear program is for
China's Foreign Ministry said the sanctions announced by
Obama would hurt cooperation between China and the United
"The U.S. has invoked domestic law to impose sanctions on a
Chinese financial institution, and this is a serious violation
of international rules that harms Chinese interests," ministry
spokesman Qin Gang said in a statement.
The United States gave China, Iran's top customer for oil, a
six-month reprieve from sanctions in June, saying it had cut its
purchases. That decision sparked criticism in the U.S. Congress.
China's imports had fallen early in the year due to a pricing
dispute, but have since rebounded.
(Additional reporting by Samson Reiny; Editing by Will Dunham
and Stacey Joyce)