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Reid promises swift action on Iran sanctions as conference begins

The House finally appointed conferees to meld the two already passed versions of the Iran sanctions bill and Congress is not waiting for the Obama administration to finish up with the UN track. "We have waited long enough for diplomacy to work," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, said in a response to a question ...

The House finally appointed conferees to meld the two already passed versions of the Iran sanctions bill and Congress is not waiting for the Obama administration to finish up with the UN track.

"We have waited long enough for diplomacy to work," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, said in a response to a question from The Cable at Thursday's press conference on financial reform, adding, "Iran is a festering sore in the world."

The House finally appointed conferees to meld the two already passed versions of the Iran sanctions bill and Congress is not waiting for the Obama administration to finish up with the UN track.

"We have waited long enough for diplomacy to work," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, said in a response to a question from The Cable at Thursday’s press conference on financial reform, adding, "Iran is a festering sore in the world."

The House had not appointed conferees until just recently. They were accused of holding up the conference until the UN track had been exhausted, a charge chairman Howard Berman‘s office has denied.

Berman announced the House conferees today.

"Today marks a major step towards preventing Iran from acquiring the ability to produce nuclear weapons. Iran’s intentions are clear, and now is the time to implement crippling sanctions on this reckless regime," he said in a statement, "We are moving forward to ensure that legislation enabling tough sanctions is on President Obama’s desk for his signature."

The administration had been hoping that Congress would hold off on passing the conference report until it was able to get a new UN security council resolution authorizing new sanctions. The deadline for the UN track has slipped repeatedly and Reid was clear that he was no longer waiting for that process to play out.

Reid said he would bring the bill to the floor as soon as it comes out of conference and that he wants to see the conference finish up work "as soon as they can."

Last week, over two thirds of the House and Senate signed a letter to president Obama urging him to impose "crippling sanctions" on Iran immediately.

The House conferees are Howard Berman, D-CA, Gary Ackerman, D-NY, Brad Sherman, D-CA, Jim Costa, D-CA, David Scott, D-GA, Joseph Crowley, D-NY, Ron Klein, D-FL, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-FL, Dan Burton, R-IN, Edward Royce, R-CA, Mike Pence, R-IN, Barney Frank, D-MA, Gregory Meeks, D-NY, Scott Garrett, R-NJ, Sander Levin, D-MI, John S. Tanner, D-TN and Dave Camp, R-MI.

The Senate conferees are Chris Dodd, D-CT, John Kerry, D-MA, Joe Lieberman, I-CT, Robert Menendez, D-NJ, Richard Shelby, R-AL, Bob Bennett, R-UT, and Richard Lugar, R-IN.

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin

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