Iran sanctions bill could hit Senate floor tomorrow
Congress is moving fast to complete its work on the Iran sanctions bill it unveiled this week, and is on track to meet the goal of getting it to President Obama’s desk by July 4. A Senate leadership aide told The Cable that the sanctions legislation, which contains new and wide-ranging penalties aimed at Iran’s ...
Congress is moving fast to complete its work on the Iran sanctions bill it unveiled this week, and is on track to meet the goal of getting it to President Obama's desk by July 4.
Congress is moving fast to complete its work on the Iran sanctions bill it unveiled this week, and is on track to meet the goal of getting it to President Obama’s desk by July 4.
A Senate leadership aide told The Cable that the sanctions legislation, which contains new and wide-ranging penalties aimed at Iran’s banking and energy sectors, could come up to the Senate floor Thursday. The House could bring it to the floor as early as Friday, although that could slip to early next week, a House leadership aide said.
Congress expects the White House to go along with the bill, although some of the provisions are harsher than the administration wanted. Hill leadership aides say final negotiations are still ongoing and in the end the White House will ultimately sign on.
But at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing Tuesday, Sen. Richard Lugar, R-IN, complained that the administration hasn’t yet weighed in formally on the bill.
"Although we are grateful for the briefings on this matter by the administration officials … it is past time for the administration to weigh in with a concrete response to this legislation," he said. "What provisions are supported or opposed by the administration? And what changes does it recommend? How would additional U.S. unilateral sanctions affect the ongoing campaign to construct a more comprehensive system of international sanctions?"
Under Secretary of State Bill Burns said that the administration was concerned about whether the legislation would harm relations with European allies, whose companies could fall under the penalties. The bill does not contain the blanket exemption for cooperating countries the administration was seeking; instead, the president will have to waive sanctions for specific companies he’d like to exempt.
"It is no secret that our international partners contain their enthusiasm for extraterritorial applications of U.S. legislation," Burns said. "And that’s why we continue to work closely with you and your colleagues to try and ensure that the measures are going to be targeted in a way that are going to maximize the impact on the goal here, which is to constrain Iran’s nuclear program and change its calculus, and give the president the flexibility that I think is useful to all of us in applying those measures as well."
Burns also acknowledged that the sanctions, all of them, are unlikely to reverse Iran’s nuclear program by themselves.
"Sanctions and pressure are not an end in themselves; they are a complement, not a substitute, for the diplomatic solution to which we and our partners are still firmly committed," he said.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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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