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 Memo: Dem hopes for 2020 grow in midterms afterglow On The Money: Funding fight to dominate dramatic lame duck | Trump blames Dems for stock slide | Trump hits Comcast after antitrust complaint | Officials reportedly moving closer to imposing auto tariffs Sherrod Brown mulling presidential run in 2020 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 CottonFormer CNN host: Tom Cotton is ‘remarkably ignorant’ Pompeo says 'no one's going to argue' he and Trump aren't tough on Iran amid new sanctions Flake: Congress should not continue Kavanaugh investigations 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 HeitkampGOP nerves on edge after Sinema takes lead over McSally Pro-Israel organizations should finally seek payback against Iran deal Dems McCaskill points finger at Fox following loss, calls it ‘state-owned news channel’ 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 Memo: Dem hopes for 2020 grow in midterms afterglow Schumer’s headaches to multiply in next Congress Pro-Israel organizations should finally seek payback against Iran deal Dems 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."