House urges Senate to defy Obama on Iran

House members of both parties on Wednesday urged the Senate to defy President Obama and pass tough new sanctions on Iran.

“Sanctions have forced Iran to the table; we should build upon this success with additional measures — like those now pending in the Senate — to compel Iran to make meaningful and lasting concessions,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) said at a hearing on Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's first 100 days in office.

“The Iranian regime hasn't 'paused' its nuclear program. Why should we pause our sanctions effort, as the administration is pressuring Congress to do?”

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Secretary of State John Kerry is pressing senators to delay action on the sanctions at least until the U.S. and its partners meet next week with Iranian negotiators in Geneva. The administration argues imposing new sanctions could derail any hope of avoiding a military clash over Iran's nuclear program, but House members disagree.

Members of the House passed new sanctions on Iran's energy sector by a 400-20 vote in July, and they have been waiting on the Senate to follow suit.

“Given the failure to reach agreement in Geneva,” said Rep. Eliot Engel (N.Y.), the top Democrat on the panel, “I believe it is time for my colleagues in the Senate to take up the Iran sanctions legislation that I co-authored with Chairman Royce and which the House passed overwhelmingly this summer.”

Engel said the White House should keep Congress informed as it pursues negotiations with Iran.

Rep. Ted Deutch (Fla.), the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs panel on the Middle East, said sanctions have brought Iran to the negotiating table and tougher ones will keep them there, not drive them away.

“With diplomatic talks resuming in seven days,” he said, “I urge our Senate colleagues to continue to advance on sanctions legislation, because the crushing economic sanctions are forcing the Iranians to the negotiating table.”

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