Iran Sanctions Bill Gains Steam, But Reid Vows to Block Vote

b_250_0_16777215_00_images_obgrabber_2014-01_1b20317862.jpgTom Williams/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- An effort to slap new sanctions on Iran has been gaining steam in the Senate, with 59 lawmakers now backing the bill, including 16 Democrats. But Tuesday, in a nod to the White House, Majority Leader Harry Reid said he will keep the measure on ice in order to avoid upsetting the temporary nuclear deal with Iran that takes effect next week.

“We're going to wait and see how this plays out,” Reid told reporters Tuesday afternoon.
 
“The one message that the Iranians should have, if they don't have it by now, is that we are not going to allow them to have nuclear weapons,” he said.  As the long-term negotiations are “going on and while the legislative process is working forward here, I'm going to sit and be as fair an umpire as I can be.”

 

The bill would further clamp down on Iranian oil exports, triggered if Iran fails to uphold its end of the bargain or walks away from talks.  With support nearing 60 votes, the legislation appears likely to pass. President Obama has threatened to veto an Iran sanctions bill while talks are underway.  If the measure gets 67 votes, it could override Obama’s veto. “There is a bipartisan majority for a new Iran sanctions bill…a majority that, quite possible, could overturn a veto,” said Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. “We believe that we ought to have that vote, and we're going to continue to press the majority leader to allow a vote on an issue that obviously enjoys the support of a very large bipartisan majority here in the Senate.”

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