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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