Se­nate votes for new Iran sanc­tions over nuke pro­gram

Schumer: Bi­par­ti­san suc­cess needs at­ten­tion

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY STEPHEN DINAN

Mov­ing to re­assert con­gres­sional power over U.S.-Iran re­la­tions, the Se­nate voted Thurs­day to im­pose new sanc­tions on the Tehran regime, ex­pand­ing penal­ties for ter­ror­ism and pil­ing on more pun­ish­ment for the gov­ern­ment’s ap­par­ent on­go­ing push for bal­lis­tic mis­siles.

The sanc­tions do not in­ter­fere with the nu­clear deal Pres­i­dent Barack Obama struck with Iran, but do try to fill in the holes else­where in the U.S. net of sanc­tions on the Is­lamic republic.

The bill also in­cludes a new round of sanc­tions laws aimed at Rus­sia, which the Se­nate at­tached to the Iran bill on Wed­nes­day, mov­ing to pun­ish Moscow for trans­gres­sions against Ukraine and for med­dling in the U.S. elec­tion last year.

Se­na­tors voted 98-2 to pass the whole pack­age Thurs­day, ship­ping it over to the House.

The leg­is­la­tion is the first big test of con­gres­sional Repub­li­cans’ will­ing­ness to stake out a for­eign pol­icy that didn’t em­anate from the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion, and could presage big­ger bat­tles ahead, with Democrats cheer­ing on the GOP.

Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Demo­crat, said the bill’s easy pas­sage should be a cau­tion to re­porters who ob­sess over ar­eas of dis­agree­ment on Capi­tol Hill — par­tic­u­larly in the wake of this week’s at­tack on Repub­li­can con­gress­men at a base­ball prac­tice.

“If those agree­ments were given a lit­tle more recog­ni­tion by the me­dia, the fact that we can at times at least work in a bi­par­ti­san way, that would help,” Mr. Schumer said. “To too many of us on both sides of the aisle, it seems when there’s di­vi­sive­ness, it gets far greater at­ten­tion in the me­dia than when there’s comity be­tween the par­ties.”

The Iran bill re­quires the ad­min­is­tra­tion to freeze as­sets and refuse en­try to any­one deemed to be help­ing Iran’s mis­sile pro­gram. Iran’s Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guard is also hit with sanc­tions for sup­port­ing ter­ror­ists.

New Rus­sian sanc­tions, mean­while, are aimed at that coun­try’s min­ing and ship­ping sec­tors.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion said it’s re­view­ing the Rus­sian sanc­tions.

“The process is still on­go­ing. It needs to go through the House, and we don’t have a fi­nal prod­uct yet to weigh in” on, said deputy press sec­re­tary Sarah San­ders.

Repub­li­cans and Democrats alike urged both the House and the pres­i­dent to take speedy ac­tion.

Sen. Bob Corker, chair­man of the For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee, said the bill was an ef­fort for Congress to re­gain some con­trol of U.S. for­eign pol­icy.

“With pas­sage of this leg­is­la­tion, the Se­nate re­asserts con­gres­sional au­thor­ity — while pro­vid­ing the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion ap­pro­pri­ate na­tional se­cu­rity flex­i­bil­ity — and sends a clear sig­nal to both Iran and Rus­sia that our coun­try will stand firm in the face of desta­bi­liz­ing be­hav­ior and that Congress will play a lead­ing role in pro­tect­ing our na­tional in­ter­ests,” the Ten­nessee Repub­li­can said.

Vot­ing against the bill were Sen. Rand Paul, Ken­tucky Repub­li­can, and Sen. Bernard San­ders, Ver­mont in­de­pen­dent.

Mr. San­ders said he sup­ported the anti-Rus­sia pro­vi­sions but balked at the Iran sanc­tions.

“I be­lieve that these new sanc­tions could en­dan­ger the very im­por­tant nu­clear agree­ment that was signed be­tween the United States, its part­ners and Iran in 2015. That is not a risk worth tak­ing,” he said.

“I think the United States must play a more even-handed role in the Mid­dle East and find ways to ad­dress not only Iran’s ac­tiv­i­ties, but also Saudi Ara­bia’s decades­long sup­port for rad­i­cal ex­trem­ism,” Mr. San­ders said.

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