House members seek to tighten Iran sanctions with new bill

"Failing to move expeditiously to close these loopholes, and allowing the continued failure of successive administrations to vigorously enforce the sanctions currently on the books, strengthens Iran while leaving the U.S. and our allies more vulnerable," she added.

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Ros-Lehtinen said the Iranian Threat Reduction Act, H.R. 1905, would eliminate some executive branch waivers in last year's Comprehensive Iran Sanctions Accountability and Divestment Act (CISADA). This change would, for example, require the administration to impose sanctions against companies that give Iran materials, technology or other assistance to pursue nuclear or other weapons programs.

It would also add new sanctions options to CISADA, including the denial of U.S. visas to people who participate in Iran's energy sector.

While the bill has four Democratic co-sponsors, Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Howard Berman (D-Calif.) indicated that Democrats are less critical of Obama's enforcement of CISADA, and instead argued that the bill is useful as a way of increasing the pressure on Iran to end its weapons programs.

"We must use every economic tool available to force Iran to end its pursuit of nuclear weapons," Berman said. "As we await vigorous enforcement by the Obama Administration under CISADA, we must continually look ahead and examine additional means to pressure Iran, and that is exactly what this new legislation is intended to do."

Berman's statement added that "even as CISADA is being implemented by the Obama Administration, it is clear that Iran continues to pursue a nuclear weapons capability."

If CISADA's passage holds any predictive value, the bill from Ros-Lehtinen and Berman would seem to have a good chance of being passed by both the House and Senate. Last year, the Democrat-led Congress moved CISADA very quickly and was able to have it approved in a 408-8 House vote and a 99-0 Senate vote.

Both votes were taken in defiance of the Obama administration, which, like past administrations, indicated it did not support legislation that required it to take steps against Iran, and instead prefers to maintain its own approach.

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