Sanctions Bill Faces Differing Views in US House

Sanctions Bill Faces Differing Views in US HouseSanctions Bill Faces Differing Views in US House

A newly passed senate bill that would impose additional US sanctions on Iran faces uncertain prospects for passage in the House, whose members are expressing differing views about its efficacy.

Hours after the senate approved the Countering Iran's Destabilizing Activities Act in a near-unanimous 98-2 vote Thursday, the House's majority Republican leaders had not said when they will act on it. The bill also would sanction Russia for allegedly interfering in the 2016 US election, a charge Moscow denies.

The Senate bill would impose financial restrictions on people involved with Iran's ballistic missile development and with the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, according to VOA News.

The legislation won strong bipartisan support from majority Republicans and minority Democrats who see Iran's ballistic missile activity as destabilizing to the region, and who accuse the IRGC of involvement in international terrorism.

Iranian officials say their ballistic missile program is defensive in nature. They also say Iran is the victim of international terrorism rather than the perpetrator.

  Mixed Response

The senate's proposed Iran sanctions got a mixed response from House members who spoke to VOA at a Washington event Wednesday night, before the bill won final senate approval.

The lawmakers were attending a dinner held by the Endowment for Middle East Truth.

Republican Congressman Scott Perry said he wants to ensure the senate's bill is strong.

"We have to look at it," Perry said. "My concern would be that [the sanctions] would be too weak, especially regarding Iran. That's really the focus; Russia is an afterthought. Somebody at some point is going to have to take some action if [the Iranians] keep heading in the direction that we suspect they will head."

Another Republican Congressman, Mark Meadows, said some House members have doubts about the effectiveness of US sanctions in dealing with Iran.

"As you look at the sanctions, typically they are not as impactful as [those of] the European Union," Meadows said. "Typically, having the EU involved has a greater impact in the [Mideast] region. We're cognizant of that, but we're looking at all the options."

Democratic Congressman Juan Vargas had a more upbeat view of the House's prospects for adopting the senate's measures against Iran's ballistic missile program and the IRGC.

"I certainly support those measures, and I think a lot of Democrats will too," he said. "The bill will have bipartisan support."

  No Administration Position  

The Trump administration has not expressed a position on the Iran sanctions proposed in the legislation, which President Donald Trump would have to sign before they become law. But his administration has imposed several sanctions on Iran in recent months over a January ballistic missile test and for  alleged human rights abuses.

The White House also is reviewing whether to reimpose Iran sanctions that Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama, lifted under the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and six world powers.

In a speech to the Wednesday event, Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer sharpened his criticism of the 2015 nuclear deal, claiming it has "paved Iran's path to a nuclear bomb" because it automatically lifts restrictions on the country's nuclear activities after a number of years. The Obama administration said the deal blocks Iran's path to a bomb. Iran says its nuclear program is designed only for peaceful medical research and electricity generation.

Israel, which is widely believed to be nuclear-armed, sees Tehran's nuclear program as a threat because Iran maintains that all territories occupied by Israel must be returned to the Palestinians.


Add new comment

Read our comment policy before posting your viewpoints