News / USA

Support Slipping for Iran Sanctions in US Senate

FILE - A general view of the Arak nuclear power plant, 190 km southwest of Tehran, Jan. 15, 2011.
FILE - A general view of the Arak nuclear power plant, 190 km southwest of Tehran, Jan. 15, 2011.
Michael Bowman
More Democratic senators are quietly signaling their opposition to a bill that spells out new sanctions against Iran if negotiations to limit the country’s nuclear program do not yield a final accord. 

The bill retains bipartisan support in both houses of Congress, but passage is seen as increasingly unlikely in the Democratic-led Senate amid an intense lobbying effort by the Obama administration to hold off on sanctions while international negotiations proceed.  

Senators Patty Murray and Elizabeth Warren are the latest Democrats to announce their opposition to the Iran sanctions bill currently before Congress. 

In a letter to constituents in Washington state, Murray said “the administration should be given time to negotiate a strong verifiable comprehensive agreement” on Iran’s nuclear program.  At the same time, she pledged to work “to swiftly enact sanctions” if the talks ultimately fail.

Similarly, a spokeswoman for Warren says the Massachusetts senator “does not support imposing additional sanctions through new legislation while diplomatic efforts to achieve a long-term agreement are ongoing.”

The sanctions bill has 16 Democratic co-sponsors, near-unanimous support among Republicans, and the backing of politically potent pro-Israeli U.S. lobbying groups.  But 11 Senate committee chairs, including Murray, currently oppose the bill. 

Among Democrats who signed on to the measure late last year, some have grown less vocal in their defense and promotion of the measure in recent weeks.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has neither explicitly promised a vote on the bill, nor ruled it out.

Congressional expert William Galston of the Brookings Institution says pressure from President Barack Obama appears to be swaying a growing number of Democratic lawmakers.

“The White House is determined to prevent this from happening," he said. "The administration believes in the marrow of its bones that the executive branch is the lead negotiator in the matter and that it deserves a chance to conduct its own foreign policy."

Iran says any new sanctions would violate last year’s interim nuclear accord and spell the end of negotiations.

The White House has promised a presidential veto of any sanctions Congress may pass before negotiations run their course. 

Polls show the American people wary of Iran’s nuclear intentions but in no way eager for war, giving the administration what Galston calls “cards to play” with Congress while it pursues a high-risk, high reward diplomatic initiative.  He adds, however, that bipartisan backing for sanctions will be overwhelming if negotiations with Iran fail.

You May Like

Pundits Split Over Long-Term US Role in Afghanistan

Security pact remains condition for American presence beyond 2014; deadline criticized More

US Eyes Islamic State Threat

Officials warn that IS could pose a threat to US homeland More

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Moscow says Russian troops crossed into Ukrainian territory by mistake More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocksi
X
George Putic
August 25, 2014 4:00 PM
How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.
Video

Video Peace Returns to Ferguson as Community Tries to Heal

Thousands of people nationwide are expected to attend funeral services Monday in the U.S. Midwestern city of St. Louis, Missouri, for Michael Brown, the unarmed African-American teenager who was fatally shot by a white police officer August 9 in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. The shooting touched off days of violent demonstrations there, resulting in more than 100 arrests. VOA's Chris Simkins reports from Ferguson where the community is trying to move on after weeks of racial tension.
Video

Video Meeting in Minsk May Hinge on Putin Story

The presidents of Russia and Ukraine are expected to meet face-to-face Tuesday in Minsk, along with European leaders, for talks on the situation in Ukraine. Political analysts say the much welcomed dialogue could help bring an end to months of deadly clashes between pro-Russia separatists and Ukrainian forces in the country's southeast. But much depends on the actions of one man, Russian President Vladimir Putin. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Artists Shun Russia's Profanity Law

Russia in July enacted a law threatening fines for publicly displayed profanity in media, films, literature, music and theater. The restriction, the toughest since the Soviet era, aims to protect the Russian language and culture and has been welcomed by those who say cursing is getting out of control. But many artists reject the move as a patronizing and ineffective act of censorship in line with a string of conservative morality laws. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video British Fighters on Frontline of ISIS Information War

Security services are racing to identify the Islamic State militant who beheaded U.S. journalist James Foley in Syria. The murderer spoke English on camera with a British accent. It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for the Islamic State, also called ISIL or ISIS, alongside thousands of other foreign jihadists. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from the center of the investigation in London.

AppleAndroid