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November 26, 2014

Posts in "Iran"

November 24, 2014

Republicans Push for More Iran Sanctions as Talks are Extended

Senate Tunnel 11 091910 445x295 Republicans Push for More Iran Sanctions as Talks are Extended

Ayotte, McCain and Graham likely to pursue tighter sanctions on Iran. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Monday’s seven-month extension of talks about the Iranian nuclear program make it very likely the Senate will vote on strengthening sanctions against Iran in the first part of 2015.

Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican who will be majority leader next year, signaled that just two days before Election Day.

“I think what we ought to do if we can’t get an acceptable agreement with the Iranians is tighten the sanctions, and in fact we had a bill in the Senate to do that, which the current majority leader wouldn’t allow a vote on,” McConnell told reporters in Kentucky at the time. “Not to stop the talks, but to say at the end of the talks, if there’s no good outcome, then the Iranians would get tougher sanctions.”

Full story

November 12, 2014

New Senate Republican Majority Wants Say in Iran Nuclear Deal

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Any nuclear deal with Iran needs to be approved by the Senate, Corker said. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republicans are gearing up to try to force President Barack Obama to give Congress veto power over an agreement about nuclear weapons with Iran.

The expected chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee signaled Wednesday that getting a say in any such deal will be a priority of GOP senators when they take over next year.

“Nov. 24 is going to be the time frame which we’ll know more clearly whether there’s going to be an extension or something has actually been reached. But I would imagine that regardless … there will be a desire very quickly after the first of the year for Congress to weigh in on the topic in some form or fashion,” Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., told reporters. “Whether it’s ensuring, you know, that Congress has a vote in final outcome or some other way, my sense is that there’ll be a move pretty quickly to speak to that legislatively.”

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By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 9:32 p.m.
Iran, Policy, Syria

October 30, 2014

The Attack Ads Harry Reid Didn’t Want You to See

luncheons015 060413 445x295 The Attack Ads Harry Reid Didnt Want You to See

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Harry Reid’s strategy of blocking amendments all year was intended with one clear objective in mind — protecting his majority.

Republicans have complained vociferously about the Senate majority leader shutting down amendments — but behind the scenes, the Nevada Democrat’s senators asked him to do so for a very simple reason: Nobody wants to give an opponent fodder for 30-second ads in a tough election year.

Reid’s strategy had a downside, because Democrats had fewer opportunities to show their independence from an unpopular president.

But aside from that attack, Republicans have been left mostly to mine earlier votes from, for instance, the 2013 budget resolution vote-a-rama — or for parts of the Affordable Care Act they voted for years ago.

Here are some of the subjects — and TV attack lines — Reid’s strategy sought to avoid: Full story

July 18, 2014

Mark Kirk Says Obama Iran Policy is Path to Nuclear War (Video)

kirk011 061214 445x295 Mark Kirk Says Obama Iran Policy is Path to Nuclear War (Video)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Mark S. Kirk said in a jarring video circulated late Friday that President Barack Obama’s Iran policy is leading to nuclear war.

The video, posted on Youtube and available through the Illinois Republican’s official website, features a background of a “60 Minutes”-style ticking clock and highlights news reports about the state of the negotiations between the international community and Iran on nuclear programs.

“The administration policy is the quickest policy that leads to war, nuclear war. That is a horrible fate to condemn American children to witness,” Kirk said in the video.

Full story

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.

March 6, 2014

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

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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

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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.

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.

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

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