Tags: Iran | sanctions | Senate | nuclear

Senate Banking Committee Votes on Iran Sanctions

By    |   Friday, 30 January 2015 11:36 AM

The Senate Banking Committee, chaired by Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., on Jan. 29 approved by a recorded vote of 18-4, the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act, which would impose economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic as a means of gaining further leverage against Iran's stated plan to develop nuclear weapons.

In his opening statement, Shelby explained that the main purposes of the bill are to strengthen sanctions and to ensure a role for Congress if any deal is reached. New sanctions would be imposed step-by-step if Iran fails to reach agreement by June 30, and existing concessions would be rolled back.

The senators who voted against the bill were Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, who supported the administration's position in his capacity as ranking Democrat; Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., another senior Democrat; and Sens. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., two senators who sometimes adopt stances critical of the administration.

This meeting revealed a number of nuances that is noteworthy for readers and viewers.

First, it was a much more open markup than the committee has held for many years, with senators given an opportunity to offer amendments in keeping with the more open process Republicans have promised for the Senate.

Second, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., who is a major player in his role as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, made it clear that the bill is to be a place holder and would not be brought to the Senate floor until at least March 24.

Third, Sens. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., and Robert Menendez, D-N.J., have built a bipartisan coalition in support of stronger sanctions, and Menendez stated clearly that at the end of the day, this coalition must hold together.

Fourth, Kirk reported that in a classified briefing this week senators were told again that Iran is getting close to achieving nuclear capability. Last, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., forcefully expressed the view that the negotiations are a mistake, and he chided Secretary of State John Kerry for predicting that they would only take three to six months.

He proposed putting all of the sanctions in place if an agreement is not reached by July 6, and his amendments achieved substantial support, although not enough to pass yet.

The most outspoken Democratic supporter was Menendez, who has clashed with the administration about what he sees as insufficient resolve in opposing Iran's nuclear ambitions, and the bill was a joint product of Kirk and Menendez over many months.

Those senators are the acknowledged leaders of the sanctions movement, and they are credited with bringing Iran to the negotiating table.

However, Corker observed that it was a mistake to give the president the authority to suspend sanctions, because the Iranians know that they can hope for more sanctions from the administration.

Clearly the Senate Banking Committee has grown extremely impatient with the lack of progress in the negotiations and the ambivalent position of the administration, so this issue is bound to heat up as the summer deadline approaches.

(Related materials can be found here and here. )

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Robert-Feinberg
Clearly the Senate Banking Committee has grown extremely impatient with the lack of progress in the negotiations and the ambivalent position of the administration, so this issue is bound to heat up as the summer deadline approaches.
Iran, sanctions, Senate, nuclear
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2015-36-30
Friday, 30 January 2015 11:36 AM
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