Reid on Iran sanctions: Wait and see

Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidDems search for winning playbook Dems face hard choice for State of the Union response The Memo: Immigration battle tests activists’ muscle MORE (D-Nev.) declined Tuesday to commit to a vote on a tougher Iran sanctions bill in January when the Senate returns from its Christmas recess.

Reid told reporters that he wants to wait and see what happens before bringing forward a new Iran sanctions measure.

The Obama administration is pressing Congress to wait on any Iran sanctions legislation, warning that new sanctions could unravel any agreement between Tehran and the six world powers on Iran’s nuclear program.

“Let’s wait and see,” Reid said when asked about a possible vote. “We'll see what Secretary [of State John] Kerry comes up with on progress on the deliberations during that period of time.”

Last month, Reid pledged to bring an Iran sanctions bill to the floor, after Congress returned from its Thanksgiving recess.

“The Senate must be prepared to move forward with a new bipartisan Iran sanctions bill when the Senate returns after Thanksgiving recess. And I am committed to do so,” Reid said on the Senate floor.

But after an interim agreement was reached between Iran and the world powers, Reid hedged on when the Senate might consider a new bill.

“When we come back, we’ll take a look at this to see if we need stronger sanctions,” Reid said in an interview on "The Diane Rehm Show."

Lawmakers from both parties who were unhappy with the interim agreement between Iran and the P5+1 group — the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany — had called for a tougher sanctions measure after the deal was reached.

But Senate Democrats have backed off the need for immediate sanctions bill amid a major White House lobbying push. The Senate Banking Committee said it would “pause” any legislation and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said he was considering a resolution instead.

Republicans have accused Reid of ducking the Iran sanctions vote by stopping any amendments from being considered to the Defense authorization bill, which is set for a vote to end debate on Wednesday.