Today a bipartisan coalition of House lawmakers launched an effort aimed at getting the Senate to increase sanctions on Iran.
House Homeland Security Committee Chairman and Foreign Affairs Committee member Michael McCaul (R-TX), Foreign Affairs Committee member Brad Sherman (D-CA), Chief Deputy GOP Whip Peter Roskam (R-IL), and Foreign Affairs Committee member Grace Meng (D-NY) -- joined by 59 members of the House -- sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) urging them to take up legislation that would tighten sanctions on Iran's energy and financial sectors.
The measure, designed to force Iran to abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons, passed the House in July by a vote of 400-20. But the bill has stalled in the Senate.
"As negotiations in Geneva are underway, we feel it is important to keep the pressure on Iran to maximize U.S. leverage," said the House lawmakers. "Indeed, it is because of tough U.S. sanctions against Iran that Tehran has come to the negotiating table. Security in the Middle East and around the world depends on strong U.S. leadership against a nuclear Iran."
November 14, 2013
Dear Majority Leader Reid and Republican Leader McConnell:
We urge you and your colleagues in the Senate to act swiftly to continue consideration of rigorous Iran sanctions legislation.
We believe that as the United States negotiates with the P5+1 group and Tehran, it is critical to maximize U.S. leverage against the Iranian regime. The possibility of tighter sanctions will enhance our leverage in the nuclear standoff between the Iran's Supreme Leader and the international community. Despite Hassan Rouhani's attempt to portray Iran's government in a new light, the objective of the Iranian regime remains the same: the pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability.
The House has already passed legislation with the support of 400 bipartisan Representatives to increase economic pressure on the Iranian regime as it develops its nuclear weapons program. For more than three months this legislation, the Nuclear Iran Prevention Act, has been pending in the Senate. Meanwhile, the Iranian government presses forward and each day the world becomes less safe.
While recent assessments of the progress of Iran's nuclear program vary--with some estimating that Iran is only weeks away from producing weapons-grade uranium--what is clear is that time is running short. Protracted negotiations may give Iran more time to spin its centrifuges, while the threat of enhanced sanctions holds the promise of compelling Iran to give up its ambitions.
While we support diplomatic efforts toward an Iran free of nuclear weapons and free of nuclear weapons breakout capability, the sanctions pressure must be maintained. Every day, existing sanctions may be weakened as Iran finds loopholes and business partners willing to evade existing sanctions.
Even Hassan Rouhani, the country's new president, bragged in 2006 that Iran had deceived European negotiators into talks while it continued to develop its nuclear program. We should ensure that tougher penalties be available should Tehran be found to be using the negotiations for stalling tactics.
The deliberative process in Congress is lengthy, and many steps remain before legislation on Iran would be sent to the President. We believe, therefore, that the Senate can continue the work necessary to develop sanctions legislation without fear of short-circuiting diplomacy.
Michael T. McCaul
Peter J. Roskam
Tom Price, M.D.
David P. Joyce
Paul C. Broun, M.D.
Cc: Hon. Tim Johnson, Chairman, Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Development
Hon. Mike Crapo, Chairman, Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Development
Hon. Robert Menendez, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
Hon. Bob Corker, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations