Feinstein 'baffled' by Iran sanctions push

Greg Nash

A prominent Jewish Democrat endorsed President Obama's diplomacy with Iran on Friday, giving the president crucial support amid growing pushback from Congress.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said she was “baffled” by her colleagues' press for more sanctions, and accused them of trying to “undermine” talks.

“I strongly oppose any attempt to increase sanctions against Iran while [international] negotiations are ongoing,” Feinstein said in a statement. “I am baffled by the insistence of some senators to undermine ... talks. I will continue to support these negotiations and oppose any new sanctions as long as we are making progress toward a genuine solution.”

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The White House has been trying — and failing — to convince lawmakers to hold off on new sanctions as it pursues a diplomatic deal over Iran's nuclear program.

A growing number of lawmakers in both parties are urging the Senate to move ahead with new sanctions mirroring those the House passed by an overwhelming 400-20 vote in July.

Several Democrats have joined the call for sanctions — most recently Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) — while Republicans have vowed to attach sanctions legislation to a pending defense bill if the Senate Banking panel won't pass a bill out of committee.

Feinstein echoed the administration's position that sanctions have succeeded in their purpose — bringing Iran to the negotiating table — and that adding new ones can only backfire.

“Tacking new sanctions onto the defense authorization bill or any other legislation would not lead to a better deal,” she said. “It would lead to no deal at all.”

Supporters of new sanctions say they are needed to dial up the pressure on Iran and force the country to abandon its nuclear ambitions.

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