A bipartisan group of House lawmakers — including a member of GOP leadership and a committee chairman — is trying to pressure the Senate leadership to “act swiftly to continue consideration of rigorous Iran sanctions legislation,” a move that would not be welcome to the Obama administration.
Rep. Peter Roskam (Ill.), the chief deputy Republican whip, House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul (Texas), Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) and Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.) are circulating a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) urging the Senate to consider an uptick in sanctions against Iran.
The move comes even as Secretary of State John Kerry has been negotiating a deal to curb the nation’s nuclear program. The Obama administration has lobbied the Senate to avoid levying new sanctions against the nation while they’re trying to cut a deal.
But Roskam, Sherman, Meng and McCaul say the Senate’s continued work shouldn’t spark fears of “short-circuiting diplomacy.”
“We believe that as the United States negotiates with the P5+1 group and Tehran, it is critical to maximize U.S. leverage against the Iranian regime,” the letter reads. “The possibility of tighter sanctions will enhance our leverage in the nuclear standoff between Iran’s Supreme Leader and the international community. Despite Hassan Rouhani’s attempt to portray Iran’s government in a new light, the objective of the Iranian regime remains the same: the pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability.”
Meanwhile, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) is circulating a letter that expresses “deep concern” about the Obama administration’s talks with Iran. “It is very troubling that while we are negotiating with Iran, a country led by individuals who have proven they cannot be trusted, who call for the destruction of Israel, and who support international terrorism, Tehran continues enriching uranium,” Coffman wrote in the letter.
“It is clear that Iran’s actions, not words, must determine any American decision to provide sanctions relief,” the Colorado Republican wrote. “Furthermore, we believe that a ‘freeze’ on Iran’s nuclear program is neither sufficient nor wise. The bottom line is that we should not relax a single sanction until the Iranian government terminates its program of nuclear enrichment beyond what would be needed for peaceful purposes, as verified by international inspectors.