U.S. legislators are considering a less ambitious alternative to an Iran-sanctions bill that has failed to come to a vote, Reuters reports.
Democrats in the Senate decided against pressing Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to allow floor consideration of the earlier sanctions proposal, legislative staffers told the wire service on Monday. That bill, called the Nuclear Weapon-Free Iran Act, now has 59 backers in the upper chamber.
Lawmakers in both chambers of Congress are in talks on a potential new text for a non-binding resolution that would implore diplomats to assume specific stances in nuclear negotiations with Iran, the Capitol Hill insiders said. Some U.S. lawmakers are pressing for Tehran’s assent to giving up a wide range of assets relevant to a potential nuclear-arms program, including an unfinished heavy-water reactor and all uranium enrichment.
The congressional staffers added, though, that the Obama administration is likely to chafe even at a non-mandatory statement from Congress. The White House threatened to block the earlier sanctions proposal on grounds that it could endanger diplomacy intended to secure enduring restrictions on Iran’s disputed atomic program.
Iranian envoys are tentatively slated to hold new atomic discussions in New York next month with counterparts from the five permanent U.N. Security Council member nations and Germany, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said this week in comments reported by al-Monitor. The talks are aimed at securing a broader, longer-term successor to a November deal in which Iran agreed to restrict certain atomic activities for half a year.
On Tuesday, the Obama administration issued a rundown of short-term sanctions curbs it would provide to Iran under the interim nuclear accord, which took effect last week. Tehran maintains that its atomic efforts are strictly peaceful, but Washington and its allies fear the activities could lead to development of an Iranian nuclear-weapon capability.
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The House Intelligence Committee voted to release the November 14 testimony of Glenn Simpson, the man at Fusion GPS who oversaw the creation of the now infamous Trump-Russia dossier. Simpson's testimony includes a number of startling claims, including that Russia infiltrated conservative political groups prior to the election, and that Trump had "long time associations" with the Italian Mafia," and that he "gradually during the nineties became associated with Russian mafia figures." Simpson also testified that Trump called off a post-election meeting with Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank and a longtime member of the NRA, currently under investigation by the FBI for money laundering. Simpson said that the discoveries were so alarming that he felt compelled to go to the authorities. The full text of the transcript can be read here.
House Speaker Paul Ryan says he has the votes to pass a short-term spending bill tonight, but "Senate Democrats said they're confident they have the votes to block the stop-gap spending bill that the House is taking up, according to two Democratic senators and a senior party aide. And top Senate Republicans are openly worried about the situation as they struggle to keep their own members in the fold."
"The FBI is investigating whether a top Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin illegally funneled money to the National Rifle Association to help Donald Trump win the presidency." Investigators have focused on Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank "who is known for his close relationships with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and the NRA." The solicitation or use of foreign funds is illegal in U.S. elections under the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) by either lobbying groups or political campaigns. The NRA reported spending a record $55 million on the 2016 elections.
"Hundreds of new and supplemental FARA filings by U.S. lobbyists and public relations firms" have been submitted "since Special Counsel Mueller charged two Trump aides with failing to disclose their lobbying work on behalf of foreign countries. The number of first-time filings ... rose 50 percent to 102 between 2016 and 2017, an NBC News analysis found. The number of supplemental filings, which include details about campaign donations, meetings and phone calls more than doubled from 618 to 1,244 last year as lobbyists scrambled to avoid the same fate as some of Trump's associates and their business partners."