‘Political issue’ rises in US Congress over anti-Iran bill
A sanctions bill targeting Iran and Russia has hit a new hiccup in US Congress, says the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Tennessee Republican Senator Bob Corker told reporters in Washington, DC, Wednesday that a “political issue” has risen ahead of the measure.
Last week, a procedural problem in the lower chamber of the United States Congress halted a quick vote for the legislation that had passed the Senate nearly unanimously.
Later, the Senate sent a proposed fix to the House but, according to Corker, a new obstacle has cropped up.
“Another little thing that’s more of a political issue” has risen, said the senator, who is known for his anti-Iran stance, asserting that “there is no language issue.”
Senators initially voted 98-2 to pass the Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act, to which anti-Russia sanctions were also attached.
House representatives argued that a “blue slip” violation had occurred due to a constitutional requirement, which stipulates that any bill raising revenue for the government must originate in the House not the Senate.
Democrats, meanwhile, suggested that the delay was intentionally engineered by the Republicans out of loyalty for Trump, who opposes imposing extra sanctions on Russia.
“Is the White House encouraging House Republicans to delay this bill so they can offer the Russians something in their upcoming talks?” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer asked in a Wednesday floor speech.
“We don’t know, it sure seems possible. Even likely. And it’s a flat-out-wrong approach. As Democrats and Republicans in this chamber agree,” he added.
Before it is signed into law by US President Donald Trump, the measure has to pass the US House of Representatives.
According to Corker, it is up to the House to approve the Senate’s proposed “easy fix.”
“I don’t know what they will do on their side. I hope they will take it up quickly and I think they may well do that,” he added.
Identical versions of the Senate legislation have previously passed the House with no objection.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson opposed the measure, arguing that it would “close the channels off” with Russia.
The Trump administration has unleashed an attack against the Iran nuclear deal, dubbed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), by repeating baseless allegations against Tehran.
As a Republican candidate, Trump kept censuring his predecessor, Barack Obama, for taking part in negotiations with Tehran along with five other world powers, calling the outcome of the nuclear talks “one of the worst deals,” the New York businessman has ever seen.