House Dems: GOP Sanctions Bill Undermines Bipartisan Stance on Iran

House Democrats are urging Republican leaders to forgo a vote on new Iran sanctions before the House adjourns on July 14 in order to maintain Congress’s traditionally bipartisan approach to Iran.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is expected to bring three Iran-related bills to the floor for a partisan vote exactly one year after the Iran nuclear agreement was announced in an effort to shine light on Iran’s illicit behavior and alleged violations of the nuclear deal, the Washington Post first reported on Monday.

The main bill would impose new sanctions on Iran and any country that supports Iran’s continued development and testing of its ballistic missile program, its support for terrorism and ongoing violations of human rights. “The Administration has demonstrated that they do not intend to hold Iran accountable for their dangerous and destabilizing ballistic missile program, global terrorism activities, and atrocious human rights violations that are committed against their own people,” McCarthy told the Washington Post. “We want to penalize the Iranian government for their continued illegal activity.”

The other bills would seek to prevent the Iranian government and Iranian banks from using U.S. dollars offshore, and prevent any U.S. government entity from purchasing heavy water from Iran.

In a letter sent on Tuesday to the Republican Majority Leader, senior House Democrats, including those who voted against the Iran deal, expressed concerns that the Iran sanctions bill would undermine Congress’s traditionally bipartisan approach to Iran.

“We, the signers of this letter,” Reps. Steny Hoyer, Eliot Engel, Nita Lowey, and Ted Deutch write, “have always worked with you and your predecessors on bipartisan legislation to address the Iranian threat in a way that sends a strong signal of Congressional unity on this issue. Introducing a bill in the dead of night, without consultation with the Minority, unfortunately turns what should be a bipartisan effort into an exercise in election-year politics that leaves Iran free to continue its malfeasance. Doing so prevents us from achieving what should be the real objective: halting Iran’s dangerous actions.”

Instead, the group of House members offered to work with the Republican leadership on a bipartisan bill to impose new sanctions targeting Iran’s ballistic missile efforts.

The Democrats also called on McCarthy to bring forward a clean bill to reauthorize the Iran Sanctions Act, which is set to expire on December 26.

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