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April 19, 2014

Posts in "Iran"

March 18, 2014

83 Senators Send Iran Letter to Obama

A toughly worded letter to President Barack Obama on the Iran nuclear negotiations signed by 83 senators lays out principles for any agreement and warns of tough new sanctions on Iran if the talks fail.

“We must signal unequivocally to Iran that rejecting negotiations and continuing its nuclear weapon program will lead to much more dramatic sanctions, including further limitations on Iran’s exports of crude oil and petroleum products,” the letter states.

The letter was led by Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Robert Menendez, D-N.J., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., Mark S. Kirk, R-Ill., Chris Coons, D-Del., and Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.

Here’s the letter (those who signed at the bottom): Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 1:32 p.m.
Iran

March 6, 2014

Ukraine Bill Could Attract Amendments on Iran Sanctions, Natural Gas Exports

thune091813 445x282 Ukraine Bill Could Attract Amendments on Iran Sanctions, Natural Gas Exports

Thune said an aid package for Ukraine could draw amendments related to Iran. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Some Senate Republicans said the upcoming aid package for Ukraine could draw an amendment adding sanctions on Iran, although others cautioned against that approach.

“It could be,” Republican Conference Chairman John Thune, R-S.D., said when asked if such an amendment would come up. “I am sure there will be some interest.” Full story

February 25, 2014

Senate GOP Renews Iran Sanctions Push

Senate Democrats and Republicans are headed for a showdown over imposing new sanctions on Iran.

The Senate began debate on a veterans bill Tuesday afternoon which would improve health care and dental care, expand educational opportunities and help the Department of Veterans Affairs address a disability claims backlog.

Democrats expected the bill sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., to have bipartisan support, but Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said that Republicans would seek to get a vote on an alternate veterans bill, sponsored by Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., that includes a provision on additional Iran sanctions. Full story

February 2, 2014

Hillary Clinton Backs Obama Against Iran Sanctions Push

clinton0003 052208 445x312 Hillary Clinton Backs Obama Against Iran Sanctions Push

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton strongly backs the Obama administration view opposing new Iran sanctions for now in a letter released by Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin Sunday.

“At this moment it is of particular importance that our government’s efforts work in coordination, not at cross-purposes. We should give anyone watching from Tehran no reason to doubt America’s unity and resolve,” Clinton wrote. “And should Iran fail to provide adequate assurances to the international community and undertake commitments to ensure it will not and cannot produce a nuclear weapon, then the legislative and executive branches will move with speed and unity, backed by America’s allies to institute even tougher sanctions.”

Full story

January 16, 2014

As Obama Presses Senate, Reid Holds Cards Close on Iran

President Barack Obama and his administration are engaged in an all-out press to get the Senate to back off a new round of Iran sanctions which they believe risk unraveling talks and could even prompt war — including a personal appeal to Senate Democrats on Wednesday night.

So far, the White House efforts appear to be holding the line, although Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., continues to hold his cards close to the vest on when, or whether, he might allow a vote on the bipartisan bill by Sens. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and Mark S. Kirk, R-Ill., that had been heading toward a veto-proof majority. Full story

January 14, 2014

Reid Continues to Hold Off on Iran Sanctions

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Reid speaks with the media after the Democratic Senate luncheon in the Capitol. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., still isn’t budging on allowing votes on new Iran sanctions, despite bipartisan support.

“The one message the Iranians should [take] is that we are not going to allow them to get nuclear weapons,” Reid said, adding that chairmen of the committees of jurisdiction have told him to hold off on any action while talks continue toward a diplomatic solution. Full story

January 13, 2014

Obama Redoubles Push Against Iran Sanctions Bill

schumer 093 1119131 445x274 Obama Redoubles Push Against Iran Sanctions Bill

The Iran sanctions push pits several members of top Democratic leadership, such as Schumer, against the president. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The White House’s campaign to keep Congress from messing with its carefully constructed talks with Iran over its nuclear program have stepped into overdrive after support for a new round of sanctions threatens to reach veto-proof majorities.

On Monday, Press Secretary Jay Carney repeatedly advised Congress against acting now — one day after President Barack Obama declared he would veto a sanctions bill while announcing the latest agreement with Iran on interim steps to limit its nuclear program. Carney had earlier said that Obama would veto the sanctions bill, but that hasn’t stopped backers from pushing forward.

Carney called legislation unnecessary because Congress could act very quickly to impose new sanctions if talks fall apart.

“We’re very confident Tehran understands that failure to abide by its commitments in the implementation agreement or failure to reach comprehensive resolution would result in action by the United States and by the international community,” Carney said.

The Iran sanctions push pits several members of top Democratic leadership — notably Sen. Charles E. Schumer of New York, the No. 3 Democrat, and Foreign Relations Chairman Robert Menendez of New Jersey — against the president, creating a particularly tense and unusual situation for Obama. The White House is more accustomed to knocking down House opposition while relying on a friendly Senate as its backstop. Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 5:08 p.m.
Iran

January 10, 2014

Iran Sanctions Bill Gains Support but to What End?

A bipartisan bill to increase sanctions on Iran appears to have a filibuster-proof majority, according to a Senate aide, but the Obama administration already has vowed to veto it.

A source tracking a bill from Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Menendez, D-N.J., and Sen. Mark S. Kirk, R-Ill., confirmed a CNN report that backers have rounded up enough members to clear a 60-vote procedural hurdle. But a Senate Democratic leadership aide denied that the legislation will come to the floor in the coming weeks, and said especially not during the week of the State of the Union. That timing would be awkward for Senate Democrats and President Barack Obama, as the White House has urged Congress repeatedly to hold off on a sanctions deal until an agreement between world leaders and Iran forcing the country to ease off its nuclear program has been given time to succeed.

“The president would veto it,” Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters at the White House in December. Another round of sanctions now, Carney said then — and the administration has repeatedly warned — would threaten the diplomatic progress Secretary of State John Kerry believes he has made.

 

 

 

 

 

December 19, 2013

Obama Would Veto Iran Sanctions Bill

Shortly after 26 senators signed on to a new bipartisan Iran sanctions bill, the White House declared it veto bait.

“The president would veto it,” Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters at the White House. Another round of sanctions now, Carney said — and the White House has repeatedly warned — would threaten the talks. The not-so-subtle hint from the White House is that if Congress pushes the bill anyway it would bring the nations closer to war when the American people would prefer a diplomatic fix.

But that clearly isn’t the view of many senators in both parties, given the introduction of the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013, led by Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and Sen. Mark S. Kirk, R-Ill.

By Steven Dennis Posted at 3:53 p.m.
Iran

December 16, 2013

Iran Sanctions Held Up by Competing Senators, Chamber Schedule

yellen hearing004 111413 445x290 Iran Sanctions Held Up by Competing Senators, Chamber Schedule

Johnson initially indicated he would not craft an Iran sanctions bill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Though many senators have made public demands for new sanctions on Iran, the effort in the chamber has been fractured by an apparent committee turf war and members offering competing proposals.

Even if senators were able to coalesce around a single proposal, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and negotiators on a defense bill have cut off  the opportunity to amend it.

Technically, the Senate Banking Committee has jurisdiction over sanctions legislation. Chairman Tim Johnson, D-S.D., said last week he would be working on his own framework, after initially indicating he would not draft a bill in light of the multilateral agreement between Western powers and Iran on the country’s nuclear program.

Those with Foreign Relations Committee ties are working on their own bills as well. Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Robert Menendez, D-N.J., is working with Illinois Republican Mark S. Kirk, while Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., is working with John McCain, R-Ariz., and others.

Full story

December 11, 2013

Timing for Sexual-Assault Bills Still Up in Air

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., has been promised a vote on her bill to remove the prosecution of violent crime in the military from the chain of command, but when that vote will happen remains unclear.

Leaders, opponents and supporters of the bill all would like to have a vote on Gillibrand’s legislation, as well as related bills, as soon as possible. But aides point to a procedural bottleneck, with must-pass bills like the budget agreement and the larger defense package still on the docket as the winter holidays quickly approach.

Plus, Republicans, still sore from Majority Leader Harry Reid’s move to change the Senate’s procedural rules, are unlikely to consent to proceeding on any issue without employing time-consuming procedural maneuvers.

And unlike the Senate minority leader and other disgruntled Republicans — and armed with an assurance for a future vote —  Gillibrand has no plans to stop the overall defense bill to secure a roll call now. As it stands, she doesn’t have the 60 votes she needs and would not gain from further upsetting Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., the chairman of the Armed Services Committee on which she serves.

Full story

December 10, 2013

McConnell Decries Nominations at Expense of Defense Bill

mcconnell 304 102913 330x220 McConnell Decries Nominations at Expense of Defense Bill

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday said that by holding votes on nominees Democrats were trying to avoid amendment debate on a defense bill and divert attention from the issue of Iran sanctions.

The Kentuckian is not the first Republican to decry the potential lack of debate on the annual defense authorization legislation — earlier Tuesday, Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma threatened to delay the bill unless more amendment votes were held — but the leader was the most direct in ascribing ulterior motives to the maneuvering.

“What I think ought to be done on the defense bill, instead of doing all these nonessential nominations this week, we ought to be turning to the defense bill and opening it up for … amendments as we’ve always done in the past,” McConnell said. “This is a rather transparent attempt to prevent a vote on enhanced Iran sanctions.”

He called the agreement between House and Senate defense leaders in conjunction with the lack of amendment debate an effort to “circumvent the Senate.”

Full story

December 3, 2013

New Iran Sanctions Would Show ‘Bad Faith,’ Carney Says

menendez 114 091713 445x295 New Iran Sanctions Would Show Bad Faith, Carney Says

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The White House on Tuesday reiterated opposition to any new sanctions against Iran related to the country’s nuclear program, even conditional sanctions that wouldn’t take effect for six months.

It’s a move that could put the kibosh on an attempt by top Senate Democrats to push new restrictions on the country.

“We strongly believe that passing new sanctions now will result in our international partners, as well as Iran, seeing us as having negotiated that agreement in bad faith, which would then have a bearing on our core sanctions architecture,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said. “The sanctions regime that [Congress] helped us build has provided this opportunity. It has succeeded in the sense that the sanctions were designed to pressure Tehran into changing its behavior, and because of the impact of the sanctions, Tehran has changed its behavior — or indicated that it is willing to change its behavior.”

Carney declined to specifically issue a blanket veto threat, noting there was no Statement of Administration Policy to announce.

That’s no surprise, because there’s no legislation yet. However, Foreign Relations Chairman Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and like-minded senators in both parties appear to be coalescing around an additional sanctions regime that would take effect in six months if subsequent conversations between the P5+1 countries and Iran fail to yield results.

Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 3:27 p.m.
Iran, Policy

November 25, 2013

Questions Over Iran Jam Leaders, Defense Bill Negotiators

An interim deal with Iran on its nuclear program is complicating the future for the annual defense authorization bill, as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., must manage three clashing factions: senators intent on passing a new round of sanctions, a White House that opposes them and armed services negotiators who simply want to see their bill passed.

Republicans hellbent on attaching Iran sanctions to the pending defense authorization bill froze Senate action before Thanksgiving, and the Senate is scheduled for only one more week of work before Christmas. The Iran agreement has only brought more voices into the fold, with Democrats such as Sen. Charles E. Schumer of New York and Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Robert Menendez of New Jersey, calling for new sanctions legislation.

The tension between imposing stricter sanctions and approving the National Defense Authorization Act manifested itself in Reid’s own shifting statements. Last week, Reid vowed to push forward with a new sanctions bill after Thanksgiving, a move clearly designed to appease GOP members who refused to consent to amendments to the defense authorization bill without a promise on Iran first. But by Monday, the majority leader walked back his position, telling NPR that he would proceed with an Iran bill only “if we do need stronger sanctions.”

Armed Service Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., the manager of the defense authorization bill, said Reid’s previous, new-found commitment to an Iran sanctions measure was an effort to finish the bill while avoiding Iran amendments.

Full story

Reid Walks Back Commitment to Iran Sanctions Bill

reid062413 445x296 Reid Walks Back Commitment to Iran Sanctions Bill

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Suddenly Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., doesn’t sound as committed to a new Iran sanctions bill.

Reid last week said he “will support” a bill that would tighten the sanctions. “The Senate must be prepared to move forward with a new bipartisan Iran sanctions bill, when the Senate returns after Thanksgiving recess. And I am committed to do so,” he said.

But Reid said Monday morning that the Senate will act only “if we need to do stronger sanctions.”

Reid said his views haven’t changed. “What I said last week, I still feel the same way today,” he said, speaking to NPR from his home in Searchlight, Nev.

“I said when we come back, we’ll take a look at this to see if we need stronger sanctions, and that’s why I’m going to look at Tim Johnson, chairman of the Banking Committee — which has jurisdiction of this, and Bob Menendez, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, and they will do what they’re supposed to do. They’ll study this. They will hold hearings if necessary, and if we need more work on this, if we need to do stronger sanctions, I’m sure we will do that.”

Before the weekend’s announcement of an interim agreement, Reid seemed to go further, outlining elements of a new sanctions package that he would support taking up after the Thanksgiving recess.

Menendez and No. 3 Democrat Charles E. Schumer of New York sounded more definitive than Reid in a statement Sunday, saying that he expected the Senate to take up additional sanctions, meaning it is quite likely that a bill will be produced, perhaps in short order.

“We all have to acknowledge that it’s an important first step,” Reid said Monday of the interim deal announced late Saturday by President Barack Obama.

The administration has vigorously opposed new sanctions for now, with Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry warning Congress that they would risk derailing the deal and splitting the international coalition that has made this round of sanctions stick.

Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin of Michigan last week said Reid’s statement was intended to “avoid this issue interfering with the negotiations” because otherwise senators would have insisted on voting on Iran amendments as part of the defense authorization bill.

But the issue of voting on amendments became moot when the Senate failed to reach a deal on amendments and adjourned for the Thanksgiving recess.

Meredith Shiner contributed to this report.

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 11:20 a.m.
Harry Reid, Iran

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