US Senate Puts New Iran Sanctions on Hold

US Senate Puts New Iran Sanctions on HoldUS Senate Puts New Iran Sanctions on Hold

US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have won a three-month reprieve from the threat of additional Congressional sanctions on Iran with the announcement Thursday of a political framework for a nuclear agreement.

Senator Mark Kirk, the Republican co-author of a bill imposing more sanctions against Iran, told Bloomberg after Obama’s speech that he did not expect a vote on the legislation he wrote with Democrat Robert Menendez before June 30. That’s the deadline the US, Iran and five other great powers have set to finish negotiations for a final nuclear agreement.  Obama and Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, had warned that passage of those sanctions would destroy the nuclear talks.

“I think we will give them till the end of June,” Kirk said. He also insisted that the US Congress would be “an over-watching presence” in the coming months as negotiators continued the talks.

  Deal Review Bill Moving Forward

The delay of the Kirk-Menendez bill doe not mean the fight between the White House and Congress over Iran will wait until July. A bill written by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker that would mandate a Congressional review of any deal is still moving forward. The White House has warned that this legislation, too, would harm the negotiations.  

Corker told Bloomberg Thursday he has several concerns about the framework agreement and that he will keep pushing his Iran bill, which would provide for a Senate vote on any agreement.

Corker’s committee will mark up the bill on April 14, and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could bring it to the floor any time after that, Corker said. Senator Ben Cardin, who today replaced Menendez as the ranking Democrat on the committee, was one of 12 Democratic senators to sign a letter pledging to support the Corker bill after the March 24 deadline passed.

“I don’t know if it will be brought to the floor immediately or if a period of time will go by,” Corker said. “With the agreement as it’s been announced, there’s a good chance additional momentum will mount. What you want to do is ensure that when you bring it to the floor that you have hopefully veto-proof support.”