- McConnell Campaign Manager Quits Amid Scandal
- Obama Weighs Delay in Action on Immigration
- Judge Strikes Down Texas Abortion Law
- Neck-and-Neck in Arkansas
- Judge Dismisses McDaniel Challenge
Posts in "Iran"
July 18, 2014
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.
March 18, 2014
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
March 6, 2014
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 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
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.”
January 16, 2014
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
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
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
January 10, 2014
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
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.
December 16, 2013
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.
December 11, 2013
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.
December 10, 2013
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.”
December 3, 2013
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.
November 25, 2013
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.