Senators Eye Fast Passage For Iran Sanctions Bill
Corker places blame for delay in House on Senate Democrats
The Senate is hoping to move quickly to advance a second time a bipartisan bill that would impose a number of new sanctions on both Russia and Iran after the legislation ran into procedural hurdles in the House.
But one key lawmaker is frustrated by the demands from Senate Democrats that he says has slowed down the process.
The bill, which passed the Senate earlier this month, 98-2, has been stalled in the House because of constitutional issues. Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker says an agreement between the two chambers has been reached on the legislation.
Both Senate Republicans and Democrats, he said, are currently determining whether there are any objections to the bill that would prevent it from clearing the chamber under a voice vote, a clearance process known as a “hotline.”
“It’s being hotlined right now on both sides of the aisle,” the Tennessee Republican told Roll Call. “This whole thing was so juvenile, it was juvenile. This thing could have already been past the House.”
Corker said one reason for the delay is because Senate Democrats “wanted to know exactly what the outcome was going to be in the House before they fixed our problem.”
“Now we’ve got to wait a week because everybody’s on recess, but my sense is had we done this on Tuesday or Wednesday it would have already passed the House,” he said. “Now it’s moving in the right direction, it’s just been frustrating.”
A Senate Democratic aide confirmed the hotline is ongoing and that all lawmakers who negotiated the bill have signed off on the language. That includes Corker and Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, the top Democrat on the foreign affairs panel, as well as Sens. Mike Crapo of Idaho, who chairs the Senate banking committee, and Sherrod Brown of Ohio, the top Democrat on that panel. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer have also approved of the update, the aide said.
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan on Thursday placed the blame for the delay on the Senate as a whole.
“We’re protecting the Constitution. They wrote the bill incorrectly,” the Wisconsin Republican told reporters. “We have lent the technical assistance to the Senate that they need to write the bill correctly and they’re working on that.”
The changes made to the bill were technical in nature, Corker said, and did not relate to the underlying policy.
At the heart of the delay in the House was a provision in the legislation that would prevent the White House from ending the existing sanctions against Russia. The measure could have an effect on federal revenue, which led to a “blue slip” issue in the House. The Constitution states that all bills impacting government earnings originate in the House.
Aside from the provision, the bill would also make the current sanctions law and direct the President Donald Trump to impose new sanctions on anyone that contributes to Iran’s ballistic missile program.
It would also give the White House the authority to place new sanctions on any individual that the State Department says engages in violations of international human rights agreements.
— Lindsey McPherson contributed to this report.