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Overnight Defense: Senators eye renewing Iran sanctions

THE TOPLINE: After Obama administration officials testified on a recently-negotiated Iran deal, some senators said they will consider moving ahead with renewing expiring sanctions on Iran next year.  

"It seems to me that if you want a deterrent, Iran has to know consequences," Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezJustice Dept intends to re-try Menendez in corruption case DACA is neither bipartisan nor in America's interest Senate DACA deal picks up GOP supporters MORE (D-N.J.) told three members of Obama's Cabinet during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing Thursday.

The administration called the move "premature," but Menendez, the former ranking member of the committee, said it would be a bulwark against Iran's ability to cheat on the deal.

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"Maybe it will never be called into play. That's fine, that's good -- hopefully it won't be called into play," he added. "But they need to know what the consequences are."

"I'm going to move to reauthorize them because I believe it should be part of the deterrence."

Treasury Secretary Jack LewJacob (Jack) Joseph LewBig tech lobbying groups push Treasury to speak out on EU tax proposal Overnight Finance: Hatch announces retirement from Senate | What you can expect from new tax code | Five ways finance laws could change in 2018 | Peter Thiel bets big on bitcoin Ex-Obama Treasury secretary: Tax cuts 'leaving us broke' MORE said the renewal of sanctions might be seen favorably if it came immediately before they expired at the end of next year, but not right after the deal was inked. 

"If it's on expiration, it's one thing. If it's well advanced, it's another," he said Thursday. "I think the idea of coming out of the box right now is very different than what you do when it expires."

Republican senators at the hearing ripped Obama administration officials about the nuclear deal, telling them they got "fleeced" and "bamboozled" in the negotiations.

"Not unlike a hotel guest that leaves only with a hotel bathrobe on its back, I believe you've been fleeced," said Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerCongress punts fight over Dreamers to March Drama surrounding Shulkin — what is the future of VA health care? Blackburn pushes back on potential Corker bid: 'I'm going to win' MORE (R-Tenn.), the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman.

"With all due respect, you guys have been bamboozled, and the American people are going to pay for that," said Sen. James E. Risch (R-Idaho), adding that the inspections regime was so flawed that "even the NFL wouldn't go along with this!"

"Anyone who believes this is a good deal really joins the ranks of the most naive people on the face of the earth," Risch added.

 

PENTAGON RELEASES ANTHRAX REVIEW: A Pentagon review released Thursday found that accidental shipments of anthrax to more than 80 labs in seven countries were due to a lack of specific standards for preparing and shipping the pathogen. 

"By any measure, this was a massive institutional failure with a potentially deadly biotoxin," Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work said in a press conference on Thursday.

"This review taught us lessons we needed to learn," he added. "We were quite frankly surprised by them. We are shocked by these failures."

Officials said they shipped the pathogen -- which was supposed to be inactivated -- as part of a program to develop preventative measures against future attacks, such as testing equipment developed to detect it. 

Defense Secretary Ash Carter ordered the review in May after a lab received spores from an Army lab at the Dugway Proving Ground in Utah that were live instead of dead. 

That lab inadvertently sent live spores to 86 laboratories in 20 states, Washington, D.C. and Japan, the UK, Canada, Australia, Italy and Germany. Those labs were free to turn over those samples to other labs, leading to some samples not yet tested or recovered. 

Work said he expected the total number of labs that had received live anthrax samples to rise. He also said the Army would carry out an investigation into those responsible for the failures at Dugway. 

"We will work with the Department of Defense and the Department of the Navy to ensure that all our labs are safe, secure and in full accordance with all regulations, policies and proven scientific methods and procedures," Secretary of the Army John Hugh said in a statement. 

 

PENTAGON CHIEF VISITS IRAQ: Defense Secretary Ashton Carter made an unannounced visit to Iraq ahead of a pivotal battle against Islamic militants.

"Your forces have performed so very well, so very bravely," Carter told a group of U.S.-trained Iraq forces, according to the Associated Press.

"And I know that you have suffered great losses too, but I just wanted to tell you that it is very clear to us in Washington what a capable force this is. So it's a privilege for us to be your partners."

Carter's inaugural visit to Iraq came a few months after he questioned the soldiers' "will to fight" after a major loss in the city of Ramadi.

The government in Baghdad has announced a counteroffensive to retake the city. 

 

BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerRestoring fiscal sanity requires bipartisan courage GOP congressman slams primary rival for Ryan donations Speculation swirls about Kevin McCarthy’s future MORE: TOP KERRY AIDE SHOULD TESTIFY: House Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerRestoring fiscal sanity requires bipartisan courage GOP congressman slams primary rival for Ryan donations Speculation swirls about Kevin McCarthy’s future MORE said the House panel investigating the siege in Benghazi, Libya, was right to call on Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes Kerry2020 Dem contenders travel to key primary states When it comes to Colombia, America is in a tough spot 36 people who could challenge Trump in 2020 MORE's top aide to testify.

"Listen, four Americans lost their lives in this terrorist attack. Their families and fellow citizens deserve to see all of the facts. It's not too much to ask nor, frankly, is it too much to expect from our government," the Ohio Republican told reporters during a press conference.

"By refusing to comply with all relevant requests for documents, Secretary Clinton and the State Department are actually prolonging this investigation," Boehner said.

House Select Committee on Benghazi Chairman Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyOvernight Energy: Dems ask Pruitt to justify first-class travel | Obama EPA chief says reg rollback won't stand | Ex-adviser expects Trump to eventually rejoin Paris accord Overnight Regulation: Trump to take steps to ban bump stocks | Trump eases rules on insurance sold outside of ObamaCare | FCC to officially rescind net neutrality Thursday | Obama EPA chief: Reg rollback won't stand GOP lawmakers: Obama admin ‘hastily’ wrote lead ammunition ban MORE (R-S.C.) on Wednesday called on Jon Finer, Kerry's chief of staff, to appear before the panel next week to discuss State's compliance with the ongoing congressional investigation, especially on the pace of its document production.

State has argued that Finer, who stayed in Vienna for weeks while Kerry hammered out the agreement, is too busy getting Congress up to speed on the accord to testify before the select committee.

 

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