Supporters of more penalties have been urging lawmakers to lose no time in approving measures that would take effect if Iran failed to fulfill the terms of an interim nuclear agreement signed last month in Geneva, or if Tehran dragged its feet in negotiations for a comprehensive accord.
The Obama administration sent Secretary of State
Under the deal reached with a diplomatic bloc made up of the United States, Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia, Iran agreed to freeze or roll back most of its
For years, there has been overwhelming support in Congress for imposing sanctions to persuade Iran to give up a program that the U.S. and other world powers fear is intended to develop a nuclear weapon. When Kerry argued his case before the
Yet efforts to advance legislation before the holiday break suffered a series of setbacks.
The must-pass defense spending bill was adopted Thursday without any sanctions amendments, despite supporters' hope that it could provide a quick route to enactment.
Plans for a bipartisan resolution calling for more penalties faltered on Thursday, when House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) withdrew his support from an effort led Majority Leader
An aide to a Democratic lawmaker said the week's action shows that "behind all the noise, there is a core of support for holding off." Nevertheless, he and other staffers and lobbyists predicted that the battle would be taken up anew when the House, which adjourns Friday, returns in January.
"There's still huge energy around here to get something on paper," said the aide, who declined to be identified because he wasn't authorized to speak on the subject.
“I realize we’re sort of going to a rope-a-dope here in the
Sanctions advocates blamed the lack of progress on the influence of the White House and Democratic Senate leadership, as well as the reluctance of lawmakers to be seen siding against diplomacy, especially when the alternative could be another war in the Middle East.
Some argued that it would be easier to sell more sanctions if Iran drags its feet. One noted that Iranian officials began threatening Friday to pull back from preliminary talks in Vienna because the previous day the