House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) pushed back hard Thursday against those urging further sanctions on Iran, saying the lawmakers are throwing "sand in the face" of the international negotiators working on a nuclear deal.
"It is really important for us to give diplomacy a chance, especially since it was such a long road to get to this place. And it has to be very clear to the Iranians that, if this doesn't work, we have other options which we are ready to use," Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol. "But I don't know whose purpose it serves to throw sand in the face of the negotiators."
The Obama administration and most Democrats have opposed the further sanctions, arguing that they would undermine the bilateral talks aimed to freeze Iran's nuclear program and prevent the development of weapons.
The two countries are in the midst of a six-month window during which the U.S. has eased some sanctions while the sides work on a longer-term deal regarding Iran's nuclear capacity. But Iranian negotiators have threatened to abandon the talks if further sanctions become law.
With that in mind, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) had refused to allow the Republicans' sanctions amendment, leading to outcries from GOP leaders and the sinking of the veterans bill Thursday.
Pelosi said lawmakers would be briefed by the administration Thursday on the bilateral negotiations, adding she has confidence in both President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry to seal a deal.
"The administration has been very responsible in terms of … reporting to us. And so our oversight function is being honored," she said.
"We've been tracking this for a very long time," she added. "I never would have thought that the United States and these countries would come together – China, Russia, the countries in Europe … – would come together in agreement on sanctions, they were so far apart.
"This was a remarkable diplomatic achievement."