A U.S. congressional panel on Tuesday approved a Russia-sanctions bill with language that may lead to tightened penalties against Iran’s supporters.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee passed legislation by voice vote that would aim to punish Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region, in part by tightening enforcement of a 2005 law targeting suspected proliferators to Iran, North Korea and Syria. The 2005 measure authorizes Obama to penalize foreign individuals and groups suspected of supplying any of the three nations with sensitive materials covered by one of several export-control regimes.
“Russian companies have been sanctioned in the past for proliferation to Syria and Iran,” but the State Department “has been delinquent in implementing” the 2005 legislation, says a committee summary of the bill passed on Tuesday.
The Ukraine Support Act draft would give President Obama 30 days to develop “a plan to fully implement the Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Act, including sanctions against Russian companies,” according to the report on the bill, introduced by panel Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.).
A House Foreign Relations Committee spokesman did not respond to requests for details on the bill’s intended targets. But the legislation text specifically identifies Rosoboronexport, a sanctioned Russian firm accused of supplying Iran with possible components for its missile program.
Congressional efforts to ramp up Iran sanctions have taken on particular sensitivity amid multilateral negotiations on the Middle Eastern nation’s nuclear program. The United States and five other governments are seeking to address fears that Tehran’s nuclear program is geared toward arms development, and Iran has threatened to pull out of discussions in response to new sanctions in coming months.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee decided earlier in March against including a separate Iran-sanctions proposal in a Ukraine aid bill it was considering.
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The protest over the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline turned violent overnight as the police and National Guard sought to remove the protesters, surrounding them with assault vehicles and officers in riot gear. The law enforcement officers used pepper spray and fired bean bags for more than six hours. In response, the protesters "lit debris on fire and threw Molotov cocktails in retreat." One woman pulled out a gun and fired at officers, narrowly missing before being arrested. The protesters claim the pipeline would be constructed on land belonging to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
The House has scheduled leadership votes for Nov. 15, the day after members return from their election recess. "Since mid-September, members of the House Freedom Caucus have weighed whether they should ask leadership to push back the elections so they can see how House Speaker Paul Ryan performs at the end of the year," but leaders don't seem inclined to grant their request.
Gross domestic product "expanded at a 2.9% annual clip from July through September. That’s a marked improvement from the first half of the year when the U.S. grew just barely over 1%." The robust numbers make it more likely that the Federal Reserve hikes interest rates at its next meeting.
"A federal jury on Thursday found Ammon Bundy, his brother Ryan Bundy and five co-defendants not guilty of conspiring to prevent federal employees from doing their jobs through intimidation, threat or force during the 41-day occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The Bundy brothers and occupiers Jeff Banta and David Fry also were found not guilty of having guns in a federal facility." In a strange "coda" to the decision, Bundy's attorney Marcus Mumford was tackled and tasered by marshals in the courtroom as he argued that Bundy should be free to go.