GOP blocks Obama sanctions czar
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Republicans thwarted a push by Senate Democrats to confirm President Obama's long-stalled sanctions czar on Wednesday.

Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump’s GOP feuds dominate ahead of midterms Dustbin 2020: The best Dems who surely won’t get the nomination Vulnerable Dems side with Warren in battle over consumer bureau MORE (D-Ohio) requested unanimous consent to bring up Adam Szubin's nomination to be the Treasury Department's under secretary for terrorism and financial crimes.

Sen. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonSentencing reform deal heats up, pitting Trump against reliable allies The Hill's Morning Report: Dems have a majority in the Senate (this week) Cotton: Reducing mandatory minimum sentencing isn’t reform, it’s jailbreak MORE (R-Ark.), however, objected, citing concerns that the Obama administration will lift restrictions on Iran's access to U.S. currency.

"Secretary Lew has all but announced that the United States government will allow Iran to dollarize their foreign transactions," he said. "Until President Obama and Secretary Kerry and Secretary Lew publicly and conclusively renounce any intent to allow Iran to dollarize a foreign transaction, I will object to this nomination." 

His comments come after the Associated Press reported last month that the Obama administration was considering allowing some offshore banks to use dollars to do currency trades for financial transactions with Iranian businesses. 

Officials told the AP, at the time, that no decision was finalized and any loosening of the current prohibition would come with several restrictions.

Wednesday marks the one-year anniversary since the Senate received Szubin's nomination, kicking off the confirmation process. 

He was approved by the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee last month, and is currently filling the post in an acting capacity. 

Democrats, however, argue that he still needs to be confirmed.

"We know that financing is the linchpin of a terrorist organization to be able to do everything that they do threatening our country," said Sen. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampThe Hill's Morning Report: Dems have a majority in the Senate (this week) Overnight Health Care: Supreme Court nomination reignites abortion fight in states | Trump urges Sessions to sue opioid makers | FDA approves first generic version of EpiPen Judge rules against Trump attempt to delay Obama water rule MORE (D-N.D.). "For the United States to ably and effectively do that work, Adam Szubin needs to be confirmed."

Sen. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyThe Hill's Morning Report: Dems have a majority in the Senate (this week) Schumer to meet with Kavanaugh on Tuesday Supreme Court nomination reignites abortion fights in states MORE (D-Ind.), separately, praised Szubin saying "he has helped shape and enforce U.S. sanctions against our adversaries for nearly a decade." 

Cotton acknowledged that Szubin is "well respected" by both parties. However, he said if Democrats were unhappy about his decision to block the nomination, "they should have considered that before they voted for a deal that gave over a hundred billion dollars to the world's worst state sponsor of terrorism."