The White House really wants Congress to take a beat on more sanctions for Iran

Last week, the Senate Banking Committee was poised to begin marking up a bill that would pass a further round of economic sanctions on Iran to continue to increase the international and financial pressure on them to stay their nuclear program, including measures passed with resounding approval by the House over the summer. In the wake of this weekend’s almost-done-deal and with more negotiations on deck for November 20th, however, President Obama has been making personal appeals to lawmakers to at least hold off until his administration can make their case — and apparently, it’s working. Via Reuters:

U.S. lawmakers will wait for a briefing by Secretary of State John Kerry this week before deciding whether to impose tough new sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program, Senate aides said on Monday. …

“It is our feeling that additional sanctions right now will have the potential to derail the diplomatic agreement and would give Iran the opportunity to actually achieve sanctions relief by dividing the international coalition,” a senior administration official said in a possible preview of the message Kerry will deliver to lawmakers.

The Associated Press has more:

At the Obama administration’s request, a sanctions bill in the Senate Banking Committee was put on hold, but it’s unclear how much longer lawmakers are willing to wait.

Obama personally placed a call last week to Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., a key sanctions drafter, to ask that legislation be stopped. Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry and White House chief of staff Denis McDonough have all talked with lawmakers in recent days. And the White House is dispatching Kerry to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to implore the Senate Banking Committee to pause the legislation once again.

And a few more deets from BuzzFeed:

Democratic leaders in Congress are also under “an extraordinary amount of pressure” to back the White House on putting off sanctions, one congressional aide said… Democrats targeted include Sen. Chuck Schumer, who a Senate aide confirmed had spoken with Vice President Biden, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, and a number of cabinet officials.

But the Senate’s hawks of both stripes have yet to back off; “We believe that sanctions and the threat of military force [are] the only things that are going to bring the Iranians to the table,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham on Sunday, while Sen. Bob Menendez insisted that, “At the same time it’s also an incentive to the Iranians to know what’s coming if you don’t strike a deal. … I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to move forward on a package that ultimately would send a very clear message where we intend to be if the Iranians don’t strike a deal and stop their nuclear weapons program.” I think John Kerry is going to have to give one heck of a persuasive talk to convince these guys to quit beating the sanctions drum; as Krauthammer put it last night, the White House looked pretty darn happy over the weekend to submit to a deal that gave Iran a lot of relief in return for empty promises. Via NRO : “In other words, it takes away our leverage and it gives them a free ride.”

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Ed Morrissey 10:01 AM on December 06, 2022