White House lobbying Senate against further sanctions on Iran in super-secret meeting

posted at 1:21 pm on October 31, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

Since their big meeting with Iranian officials earlier this month apparently showed some promise, the White House has continued to insist that they would much rather that Congress hold off on passing any further economic sanctions on Iran for the time being — but a bipartisan group of Congressmen have been equally insistent that now is the precisely the right time to demonstrate the United States’ resolve on the issue by continuing to lay even more sanctions on the line. The Obama administration is meeting with the Iranian officials again in Geneva next week, and they’re asking the Senate not to move forward on a new bill (even less harsh than the one passed by the House last summer that would roughly halve Iran’s already curtailed oil exports) so that they can massage what they see as a “diplomatic opening,” via Reuters:

Fresh U.S. sanctions over Iran’s disputed nuclear program being debated behind closed doors in the Senate aim to slash the country’s oil sales in half within a year of the plan being signed into law, an influential senator said this week.

Robert Menendez, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told a meeting of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in New York on Monday that a package of sanctions ready to move in his chamber has a goal of cutting Iran’s current oil exports to no more than 500,000 barrels per day. …

Since the beginning of 2012, U.S. and European sanctions have already cut Iran’s oil exports to about 1 million bpd from about 2.5 million bpd, costing the Islamic Republic crude sales worth billions of dollars a month, and helping to spike inflation and unemployment.

After a recent report from Israel claiming that Iran could be less than a month away from a bomb, however, the House is pushing for the Senate to act quickly, via The Hill:

House leaders are running out of patience with their Senate counterparts over Iran sanctions.

The lower chamber voted 400-20 in July to tighten the noose on Iran’s energy sector and have been waiting for three months for the upper chamber to follow suit. The Senate Banking Committee had been expected to introduce and mark up its own sanctions bill this week but that timeframe has slipped after the Obama administration urged senators to hold off while U.S. diplomats test Iran’s recent overtures.

“The Senate should act,” said Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), a Jewish Democrat who’s close to leadership. “We ought to pass these increased sanctions, and make sure that the Iranians don’t think that they can charm their way out of this situation. Act now.”

The White House, as I said, is trying to delay that exact scenario, and put together a big top-secret meeting with the Senate Banking Committee today to try and dissuade them from moving forward, reports Politico:

Vice President Joe Biden will join with other top Obama administration officials on Thursday in lobbying Senate Democrats against new sanctions for Iran, according to Democratic sources.

Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew will meet with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and other senior Democrats as the White House tries to convince them not impose additional punitive measures against Iran at this time.

Kerry and Lew are also scheduled to hold a top-secret briefing for the Senate Banking Committee on the impact of U.S.-led sanctions on Iran.

I’m not convinced that the White House’s sanctions-timeout argument is going to fly, though; Iran has used negotiations to extract concessions and play for time in the past, and the idea that the threat of force and harsh penalties are the best method to discourage any Iranian retrenchment is enjoying a lot of bipartisan support.


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“Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job” — GWB, nailed the obama legacy.

Schadenfreude on October 31, 2013 at 1:23 PM

If the administration wants X, give them Y.

Maybe then their track record would improve.

Gatsu on October 31, 2013 at 1:23 PM

Iran has already executed a bunch of the 3000, whom obama wants to ignore…some of them have given the Iranians the locations of the nuclear sites.

Schadenfreude on October 31, 2013 at 1:24 PM

Forgot to type the obvious – obama is NOT for human right, never.

He’s always with his muzzie bros.

“Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job”…eh, heh, heh, heh — BushChimpey

Schadenfreude on October 31, 2013 at 1:25 PM

Kerry and Lew are also scheduled to hold a top-secret briefing for the Senate Banking Committee on the impact of U.S.-led sanctions on Iran.

A meeting which is sure to scare the hell out of everyone present when they realize that Lew and Kerry are actually leading this charge.

My two youngest kids could give a more comprehensive analysis and strategy of the Iran situation than these two stumble-bums, and one of the kids would be using her Barbie laptop.

Bishop on October 31, 2013 at 1:33 PM

I’m not convinced that the White House’s sanctions-timeout argument is going to fly, though; Iran has used negotiations to extract concessions and play for time in the past, and the idea that the threat of force and harsh penalties are the best method to discourage any Iranian retrenchment is enjoying a lot of bipartisan support.

Given the increased chatter that Iran is at most a month away from having enough uranium for a nuclear warhead, Number One Observatory Circ…er…the Mad Mullahs don’t have to play for too much more time.

Steve Eggleston on October 31, 2013 at 1:33 PM

4 Turkish MPs wear headscarves in parliament as ban ends

Four lawmakers wearing headscarves walked into Turkey’s parliament in Ankara on Thursday, in a the move to mark the end of a ban on head coverings in the chamber. The restrictions were removed as part of reforms aimed at boosting democracy unveiled by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in September, AP reported. However, the ban remains in place for court judges, prosecutors and military and security personnel.

RT…but they report more good/true stuff than the US media, lately.

Schadenfreude on October 31, 2013 at 1:34 PM

Sanctions aren’t going to make the iranian regime back down now that they are this close to a bomb. Obama has already demonstrated that he will not back a public uprising in Iran. So what is the point of increasing sanctions? All it will do is make the people suffer, and they can’t revolt because we won’t be there to help. The ayatollah won’t go hungry.

tdarrington on October 31, 2013 at 1:36 PM

My two youngest kids could give a more comprehensive analysis and strategy of the Iran situation than these two stumble-bums, and one of the kids would be using her Barbie laptop.

Bishop on October 31, 2013 at 1:33 PM

Stop insulting stumble-bums.

Seriously, I don’t doubt for even a second your two youngest could give a more comprehensive analysis of the Iran situation than Lew and Ketchup Boy.

Steve Eggleston on October 31, 2013 at 1:36 PM

Sanctions aren’t going to make the iranian regime back down now that they are this close to a bomb. Obama has already demonstrated that he will not back a public uprising in Iran. So what is the point of increasing sanctions? All it will do is make the people suffer, and they can’t revolt because we won’t be there to help. The ayatollah won’t go hungry.

tdarrington on October 31, 2013 at 1:36 PM

Somehow I think Teh SCOAMT knows that and sees that suffering as punishment for daring to stand up to his Veep’s BFFs.

Steve Eggleston on October 31, 2013 at 1:38 PM

Iran has used negotiations to extract concessions and play for time in the past, and the idea that the threat of force and harsh penalties are the best method to discourage any Iranian retrenchment is enjoying a lot of bipartisan support.

They’ve been shown to be bigger con-artists then the con-artist in the White House.

Evidently the Iranians are counting on the Chosen One’s know narcissistic tendency to believe his own BS; that’s he’s the smartest guy in the room.

Now watch them take his pants without his knowing it.

GarandFan on October 31, 2013 at 2:16 PM

A suspicious person might get the idea that Obama is soft on the mullahs and their bomb from his lack of seriousness on the issue, or from his coddling of the Muslim Brotherhood (now, thankfully, banned again in Egypt) by delivering advanced fighter planes and military aid to them when they were trying to consolidate absolute power, yet threatening to withhold aid from the country after the people demanded their ouster.

With this President, it’s easy to get that idea. He seems to want to diminish American influence while simulataneously making nice with the political representatives of the most extreme islamists. Steve Forbes has a good take on it all.

Adjoran on October 31, 2013 at 2:19 PM

Super secret? Yet I know about it now?

cat-scratch on October 31, 2013 at 2:25 PM

Since their big meeting with Iranian officials earlier this month apparently showed some promise,

In other words, Iranian officials stall, stall, stall until their bomb is ready.

RoadRunner on October 31, 2013 at 2:47 PM

Super secret? Yet I know about it now?

cat-scratch on October 31, 2013 at 2:25 PM

If it was classified Super Dooper Secret, you would know nothing about it.

tdarrington on October 31, 2013 at 2:48 PM

Is Barack Obama, or Joe Biden, the unofficial Ambassador to the United States for the Islamic Republic of Iran?
Just who in the He!! do these dopes think they work for?

Another Drew on October 31, 2013 at 3:42 PM

Will Obama and Biden please come over and play high stakes poker with me?

Please, Please.

schmuck281 on November 1, 2013 at 12:41 AM