WASHINGTON, Sept. 23 (UPI) -- The House passed a bill barring the U.S. government from making cash payments to Iran after the Obama administration sent Tehran $400 million in a move Republicans saw as "ransom."
The measure, passed Thursday, bans the government from sending any cash payments to Iran and requires the White House to provide 30 days notice in advance of any payments the result of a pending international tribunal to settle disputes between the two countries. The legislation also calls for the government to prove any payments made as a result of that tribunal are not ransom payments.
Lawmakers voted largely along party lines, with 16 Democrats joining all Republicans in the 254-163 vote.
The move is the latest by Republican House leaders who oppose the administration's pursuit of the nuclear deal with Iran. The $400 million payment from the United States to Iran was sent the same day American hostages, including Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, were released.
The cash payment was the first installment on a refund of an arms deal the United States made with Iran in 1979. An international tribunal determined the United States owed Iran the money, plus interest, to pay for military weapons it never delivered. The State Department said the $400 million payment was "leverage" aimed at the prisoners' release, but not an outright ransom payment.
The bill now moves to the Senate for a vote; President Barack Obama has threatened to veto it, saying it could force the United States to fail to fulfill its international obligations.