Dems Charge GOP with Stalling Iran Sanctions
WASHINGTON – With the Senate passing bipartisan legislation strengthening sanctions against Iran last week by a vote of 97-2, the House bill targeting Tehran remains stalled. Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) Ed Royce (R-CA) told Jewish Insider, “It’s not going to be delayed long. It has to do with a blue slip issue.” The California lawmaker was referring to a constitutional requirement that all bills raising revenue for the government must originate in the House. Royce refused to elaborate when asked a follow-up question and quickly walked away. “The committee is continuing to review the bill.” explained Cory Fritz, a GOP HFAC spokesman.
Many Democrats, however, were not convinced by the technical explanation coming from Republican leaders. The top Democrat on the Committee Eliot Engel (D-NY) blamed Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) for holding up the legislation. “I think it’s disgraceful. We have an important bill that slaps sanctions on both Russia and Iran. Passes the Senate 98-2. About as bipartisan as it gets. The fastest way it could pass would be to bring it right to the floor and vote on it,” Engel explained. Citing the different committees that are citing jurisdiction including HFAC and the Ways and Means Committee, Engel added, “If you want to kill something, you make sure it passes by four committees.”
“It’s important that now we send a strong message to Iran and Russia,” noted Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL). “It’s hard for me to believe that the leadership of the House would hold back an important piece of legislation like this that targets the dangerous actions of Iran that threaten our own troops in the region and threaten Israel in order to meet some political goal, especially if that political goal is trying to prevent action against Russia, a country that interfered in our elections. It would concern me gravely if that is what were happening here.”
At the same time, some blamed the Trump administration for the delay. Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) asserted, “Rex (Tillerson) testified against one aspect of the bill. He wanted the administration to have total power to lighten or strengthen any sanction on anybody at anytime. I think it’s more the Russia part than Iran that would inspire the White House to be able to modulate.” Noting the importance of the legislation, Sherman emphasized, “I want it to move as quickly as possible.”