House to Senate: Pass Iran sanctions bill

A group of 34 House members is calling on the Senate to approve legislation to tighten sanctions against Iran, a move the Obama administration says would disrupt ongoing nuclear negotiations with that country.

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) introduced a resolution Thursday that says the Senate should act on the Nuclear Iran Prevention Act, H.R. 850. The House passed this bill in July 400-20.

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According to the Obama administration and Iran, Senate passage of that bill would seriously undermine the six-month deal that Iran struck with the United States and other members of the P5+1. In that agreement, the U.S. agreed to remove billions of dollars worth of sanctions against Iran's energy, precious metals and auto sectors, and Iran agreed to reduce — but not eliminate — its uranium enrichment program.

Several Republicans and Democrats have criticized that agreement by saying it will let Iran continue its nuclear program and threaten Israel. Scalise said President Obama has made a "naive and dangerous decision" to negotiate with Iran.

"Israel is a vital ally and our most trusted friend in the region, and President Obama would do well to consult with Prime Minister Netanyahu, who has called the P5+1 interim agreement with Iran 'an historic mistake,' " Scalise said Thursday. "We call on the Senate to follow the House's lead in taking decisive action to mitigate the threat that a nuclear-armed Iran would pose to the United States and the rest of the world."

Scalise's resolution, H.Res. 431, finds Iran has threatened Israel, and has not suspended its nuclear enrichment activities. It also finds that sanctions have proven to be the most effective tool against Iran.

"[M]ultiple rounds of tough sanctions have been effective in bringing Iran to the negotiating table and the threat of increased sanctions has the ability to compel Iran to abandon its nuclear ambitions," it reads.

It also finds that the P5+1 deal "will not prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability." It concludes by saying it's U.S. policy to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, and that the House calls on the Senate to pass the Nuclear Iran Prevention Act.

The resolution is sponsored entirely by Republicans except for one member, Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas.).

In July, the House easily passed the Nuclear Iran Prevention Act, which calls for sanctions against Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, financial institutions that provide services to people in Iran subject to human rights sanctions, and entities that do business with the Central Bank of Iran.

In July, the House bill had the support of the top leaders of both parties. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) supported the bill, and said U.S. actions "must be clear and our commitment must be unwavering."

Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said the U.S. should not waver just because of Iran's June election, in which Hassan Rouhani was elected president.

Since the Iran agreement was announced, several key Democrats have criticized it, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). Reid has said the Senate would consider the possibility of tougher sanctions against Iran when it returns next week.

New York Senators Chuck Schumer (D) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D) have also criticized the deal.