Reid: ‘Wait and See’ About Sanctions Legislation

The majority leader’s comments come as support grows for a Senate proposal.

Reid: "˜It's all short-term now.'
National Journal
Jordain Carney
Jan. 15, 2014, 1:53 a.m.

Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id, D-Nev., sidestepped ques­tions Tues­day about when he will al­low le­gis­la­tion to in­crease sanc­tions against Ir­an to come up for a vote.

A pro­pos­al in­tro­duced by Sen. Robert Men­en­dez, D-N.J., has gained bi­par­tis­an sup­port, with ap­prox­im­ately 58 co­spon­sors. The pro­pos­al would in­crease sanc­tions against Ir­an if it walks away from the in­ter­im agree­ment — or po­ten­tially a long-term deal — on its nuc­le­ar pro­gram.

“While this pro­cess is play­ing out, that is the ne­go­ti­ations go­ing on in Switzer­land”¦.While they’re go­ing on, and while the le­gis­la­tion is work­ing for­ward here, I’m go­ing to sit and be as fair an um­pire as I can be,” Re­id said told re­port­ers.

Re­id has walked a fine line on the Ir­an sanc­tions, stuck between mem­bers of his party who sup­port the pro­pos­al and the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, which has led an in­tense lob­by­ing ef­fort to keep sen­at­ors from mov­ing for­ward. He sug­ges­ted in Novem­ber that the Sen­ate could move for­ward on le­gis­la­tion, but has since hedged on those com­ments.

Of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing Pres­id­ent Obama and Sec­ret­ary of State John Kerry, have warned that new sanc­tions would jeop­ard­ize any pro­gress made — a claim backed by Ir­a­ni­an of­fi­cials.

“I think at this stage I think we’re where we should be. There’s 10 sen­at­ors, who are chair­men of com­mit­tees here, who’ve said they don’t want any­thing done. We have now, I don’t know how many sen­at­ors, but more than 55 are co­spon­sor­ing this,” the Nevada Demo­crat said, re­fer­ring to Men­en­dez’s le­gis­la­tion. “So this — we’re go­ing to wait and see how this plays out.”

Mean­while, Sen. Tammy Bald­win, D-Wis., told BuzzFeed that she didn’t fore­see a vote hap­pen­ing in the near fu­ture.

Im­ple­ment­a­tion of an in­ter­im agree­ment on Ir­an’s nuc­le­ar pro­gram kicks off on Monday, with form­al talks on a long-term deal ex­pec­ted to start next month.

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