US Senate Republicans block Iran sanctions vote (JERUSALEM POST) By HILARY LEILA KRIEGER. JPOST CORRESPONDENT 05/18/12)
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WASHINGTON – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday that
Iranian officials must be laughing at the US Congress after partisan
differences once again scuttled a sanctions bill.
“They’re laughing at us,” Reid, a Democrat, said after Republican
members objected to the bill on the grounds that the language wasn’t
tough enough and that they had not been given more than a few hours
to review it.
“Here’s the United States Senate quibbling over a sentence,” Reid
The two sides traded accusations over who was stalling approval of
the package, which would close loopholes in sanctions laws and look
to further limit Iranian oil and tanker activities, as well as impose
additional penalties on financial institutions and satellite
companies involved in sanctionable activities.
Members of both parties, however, stressed the bipartisan support
enjoyed by further sanctions on Iran. Republicans suggested that
their concerns could quickly be addressed, allowing another vote
later Thursday or early next week, though the bill was already
blocked once in March and the differences were not fully resolved in
the intervening months.
The US House of Representatives has already passed its own measure,
and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has sent a
letter to the Senate on the importance of passing its version of the
legislation “as rapidly as possible.”
Congress had been aiming to approve the bill before the next round of
talks over Tehran’s nuclear program begins in Baghdad on May 23.
“Time is of the essence,” declared Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey),
who has been championing the bill. “We must send to the Iranians a
clear message that you cannot just forestall negotiations and have
negotiations thinking that you are buying time. We must show them
that notwithstanding their intentions to buy time, there are
An aide to a Republican senator also involved in the issue said that
the Senate wants to send a message to Iranians who hope engaging in
talks will easily gain them relief from sanctions.
“We’re sending a signal to the Iranians that unless we see a halt to
all enrichment activities, we’re coming at you with another sanctions
bill,” he said.
In the House on Thursday, the full appropriations committee passed
the foreign operations budget, which includes $3.1 billion in
military assistance to Israel. (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post
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