Iran sanctions bill passes Senate panel

Members of the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday passed a bill that would impose sanctions on Iran if a comprehensive agreement to roll back its nuclear program is not reached by June 30.

The bill, co-authored by Sens. Mark KirkMark Steven KirkThe global reality behind 'local' problems Dems vow swift action on gun reform next year This week: Trump heads to Capitol Hill MORE (R-Ill.) and Robert MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezWilliam Barr is right man for the times This week: Trump delivers State of the Union amid wall fight BuzzFeed story has more to say about media than the president MORE (D-N.J.), passed in the committee by an 18-4 vote.

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All 12 Republicans on the committee voted for the bill, as did six Democrats.

The Democrats that voted for the bill included Sens. Menendez, Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerGOP Green New Deal stunt is a great deal for Democrats National emergency declaration — a legal fight Trump is likely to win House Judiciary Dems seek answers over Trump's national emergency declaration MORE (D-N.Y.), Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterHow the border deal came together GOP braces for Trump's emergency declaration Border talks stall as another shutdown looms MORE (D-Mont.), Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampOvernight Energy: Trump taps ex-oil lobbyist Bernhardt to lead Interior | Bernhardt slams Obama officials for agency's ethics issues | Head of major green group steps down Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary On The Money: Shutdown Day 27 | Trump fires back at Pelosi by canceling her foreign travel | Dems blast 'petty' move | Trump also cancels delegation to Davos | House votes to disapprove of Trump lifting Russia sanction MORE (D-N.D.), and Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyOvernight Energy: Trump taps ex-oil lobbyist Bernhardt to lead Interior | Bernhardt slams Obama officials for agency's ethics issues | Head of major green group steps down Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary EPA's Wheeler faces grilling over rule rollbacks MORE (D-Ind.).

Schumer called the bill "a good step forward."

"If they don't come to a tough strong agreement...there will be further sanctions and further actions," he said.

Democrats who voted against included Sens. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownGOP Green New Deal stunt is a great deal for Democrats Sherrod Brown pushes for Medicare buy-in proposal in place of 'Medicare for all' High stakes as Trump, Dems open drug price talks MORE (D-Ohio), the committee’s ranking member, Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedPapering over climate change impacts is indefensible Why Democrats are pushing for a new nuclear policy GOP chairman: US military may have to intervene in Venezuela if Russia does MORE (D-R.I.), Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyGOP Green New Deal stunt is a great deal for Democrats The border deal: What made it in, what got left out Lawmakers introduce bill to fund government, prevent shutdown MORE (D-Ore.), and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenSenate Dems introduce bill to prevent Trump from using disaster funds to build wall Klobuchar, O'Rourke visit Wisconsin as 2020 race heats up Sherrod Brown pushes for Medicare buy-in proposal in place of 'Medicare for all' MORE (D-Mass.).

The bill, which is softer than one proposed last year by Kirk and Menendez, would allow the president to waive sanctions indefinitely for 30 days at a time.

Last year’s bill garnered 17 Democratic co-sponsors, but Democratic support for the current bill was not clear after President Obama threatened during his State of the Union address to veto the bill. The administration argues any sanctions legislation passed before June 30 would derail the talks by empowering hardliners in Iran who oppose a deal, and break the cohesion among negotiators from the U.S. and its allies.

Menendez, however, kept together a coalition of 10 Democrats who support the bill, promising the White House not to support a vote on the bill before March 24, by when negotiators agreed to reach a framework agreement.

Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerSasse’s jabs at Trump spark talk of primary challenger RNC votes to give Trump 'undivided support' ahead of 2020 Sen. Risch has unique chance to guide Trump on foreign policy MORE (R-Tenn.) said that promise would effectively delay a vote on the Senate floor of the vote until then.

"All of us understand it's not going to be voted on before March 24," he said.

Brown urged lawmakers to wait until June 30 the negotiators’ deadline for an agreement.

"Congress should have the collective patience to wait until the end of June to see whether our negotiators can resolve the nuclear issue with Iran through diplomacy," Brown said.

"Once that is determined, Congress and the president will unquestionably join hands in applying greater pressure," he added.

The passage of the bill in committee, however, is a sign that Democrats are running out of patience.

With 54 Republicans in the Senate, Democratic support of the bill is necessary to reach a veto-proof majority of 67 votes.

The committee also passed several amendments during the mark-up session.

An amendment by Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) would require the Treasury Department to submit an assessment on economic sanctions relief five days after a deal is reached.

Another amendment, from Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Penn.), would require Congress to vote on any final deal reached.

The panel also approved two amendments from Sen. David VitterDavid Bruce VitterBottom Line Bottom Line Top 5 races to watch in 2019 MORE (R-La.) that insert into the bill a statement of Israel's right to defend itself and strengthen verification of Iran's cooperation with any deal.

The committee voted down two amendments by a new member, Sen. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonSenate approves border bill that prevents shutdown 'Morning Joe' host quizzes Howard Schultz on price of a box of Cheerios Huawei charges escalate Trump fight with China MORE (R-Ark.), that would have had all proposed sanctions kick in after July 6 -- instead of in graduated steps after July 6 -- and would have allowed the president to waive the start of the sanctions by 30 days only once instead of indefinitely.

--This report was updated at 12:40 p.m.