Congress divided on Haley’s Iran sanctions proposal

WASHINGTON –U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley delivered a forceful speech — followed by a Q&A session — at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) on Tuesday where she put forth the case for the Trump administration to exit the nuclear agreement with Iran. If President Donald Trump refuses to certify the nuclear deal, Haley suggested that the ball could be placed in Congress’ court allowing lawmakers to reintroduce nuclear sanctions against Tehran.

Lawmakers were split — primarily along on party lines — whether this would be the appropriate next step. Representative Tom Rice (R-SC) told Jewish Insider that he would “absolutely” back legislation to reimpose nuclear sanctions. “The deal that the Obama administration struck with Iran was very one-sided and unsatisfactory to begin with and I would look forward to any opportunity to re-examine that deal,” he explained. “As Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said, we can get a whole lot better deal, if we were more firm with Iran and I suspect that he is right.”

However, Democratic Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) urged a more cautious approach. “It will be a mistake if, in fact, the Iranians have continued to honor the agreement,” he noted. The Maryland lawmaker recently returned from a Congressional trip to Israel where he was informed by Israeli officials that Iran was abiding by the 2015 agreement. “My view is from everybody that I’ve talked to — including the IAEA and the Israelis — on the nuclear deal: they (Iran) are following the provisions of the agreement,” Hoyer said. Reintroducing the nuclear sanctions would highlight that the “US will not follow an agreement even though the other signatories are,” he added.

Across the aisle, Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) noted that he would appreciate the opportunity to reimpose the nuclear sanctions. “I don’t think they should have been taken off in the first place. I thought it was a very bad deal,” he said. “The Obama administration said we got a pause in their nuclear weapons. Look at what they are doing. Hezbollah is funded higher than they have ever been before.”

Yet, Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) was skeptical of the administration’s new policy proposal. “The last time the Trump administration came to us they said that Iran is fully in compliance about a month ago,” he emphasized. Lynch argued that Haley making the case that Tehran was violating the deal was “inconsistent” with the White House’s recent public remarks and urged further study before resuming with additional sanctions.

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