Report: DNC Leader Scuttled Measure to Increase Iran Sanctions

Image: Report: DNC Leader Scuttled Measure to Increase Iran Sanctions

Tuesday, 07 Jan 2014 05:45 PM

By Cynthia Fagen

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The chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee is being accused of acting as a key agent for the White House to scuttle a bipartisan measure that would have imposed greater sanctions on Iran, sources told the Washington Free Beacon.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of South Florida wielded her behind-the-scenes influence to kill the 2013 resolution that had been backed by leading pro-Israel Democrats Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, along with Sens. Robert Menendez and Cory Booker of New Jersey. But the resolution was opposed by the White House, Capitol Hill and Florida sources told the Free Beacon.

The Iran resolution crumbled after House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland withdrew his support, "following a last-minute lobbying campaign helmed by Wasserman Schultz, whom sources identified as the 'key Democrat' leading the anti-sanctions charge," the Free Beacon reported.

Hoyer had been working with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., and Reps. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., and Ed Royce, R-Calif., to pass the last-minute resolution when he abruptly withdrew.

At issue is Iran's uranium enrichment program, which could allow it to build a nuclear weapon and threaten Israel.

The White House opposes additional sanctions. It began easing economic sanctions shortly after Iran's new president, Hassan Rhouhani — considered more moderate than previous Iranian officeholders — talked to President Barack Obama by telephone last September.

But a Treasury Department spokesman said this week that "in the months since the Iranian election, we have continued to pursue our unwavering goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. We have not let up on vigorous sanctions enforcement one iota."

Still, Wasserman Schultz's opposition to the sanctions measure has angered some Democratic lawmakers in Washington and in her heavily Jewish South Florida home base.

"Debbie has been busy at home telling her constituents she is doing all she can to stop Iran, but in reality it appears she is busy behind the scenes working to scuttle bipartisan action to put increased sanctions pressure on Iran," a Capitol Hill Democrat told the Free Beacon.

"Every minute she is publicly silent, or working against bipartisan efforts to pressure Iran, is a minute she is siding with the mullahs over the American people, who overwhelmingly want mounting pressure," said the source, who requested anonymity.

South Florida sources told the Free Beacon that Wasserman Schultz's opposition to increased sanctions against Iran has become a "problematic position" for her constituents,  and that community leaders are scheduled to meet with her this week.

"She's being very careful not to say anything publicly while working hard behind the scenes to jam up the legislation," a Washington, D.C., Jewish community insider told the Free Beacon.

Another source familiar with the Iran resolution said, "People are talking about it."

"Sources in the Jewish Federation network in Florida are saying this, too; she's not been very helpful," the source said.

A spokeswoman for Wasserman Schultz did not respond to a Washington Free Beacon request for comment.

Another key dissenter to the measure is Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson of Florida, a source said.

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