A senior Obama administration diplomat on Thursday pressed U.S. senators not to legislate new economic sanctions against Iran until after a multilateral meeting slated for later this month on the country’s nuclear program, The Hill newspaper reported.
“I would hope that you will allow us the time to begin these negotiations [with Iran] and see if, in fact, there is anything real here,” U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Iran would hear “quite directly that if there isn’t … everyone is ready to act,” added Sherman, Washington’s top envoy to talks between Iran and six negotiating powers.
The House of Representatives passed legislation in July that would expand economic constraints on non-U.S. companies doing business with Iran, and the Senate Banking Committee is preparing a similar Iran sanctions bill.
Sherman is concerned about the timing of Congress’ deliberations on such legislation because of a planned Oct. 15-16 meeting in Geneva over suspicions that Tehran’s atomic efforts are geared toward development of a nuclear-arms capability. Iran’s recently installed president has pledged to seek quick progress in the talks, which have dragged out for years in an on-and-off fashion.
Still, the House bill’s sponsor said the Senate should “pass sanctions legislation now.”
Doing so would “increase our negotiating leverage and deny Tehran the resources to continue its nuclear program,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) said on Thursday in released comments.
Separately, Sherman said Washington’s implementation of existing Iran penalties has been “hampered significantly” since many government offices closed their doors on Tuesday, The Hill reported separately.
What We're Following See More »
The Republican Study Committee may lose several members of the House Freedom Caucus next year, "potentially creating a split between two influential groups of House conservatives." The Freedom Caucus was founded at the inception of the current Congress by members who felt that the conservative RSC had gotten too cozy with leadership, "and its roughly 40 members have long clashed with the RSC over what tactics to use when pushing for conservative legislation." As many as 20 members may not join the RSC for the new Congress next year.
"The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Monday issued emergency authorization for a Zika diagnostics test from Swiss drugmaker Roche, skirting normal approval channels as the regulator moves to fight the disease's spread." Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports that a new study in Nature identifies "about a dozen substances" that could "suppress the pathogen's replication." Some of them are already in clinical trials.
According to 37 newly released audits, "some private Medicare plans overcharged the government for the majority of elderly patients they treated." A number of Medicare Advantage plans overstated "the severity of medical conditions like diabetes and depression." The money has since been paid back, though some plans are appealing the federal audits.
"GOP leaders and House Democrats are already laying the groundwork for a short-term continuing resolution" on the budget this fall "that will set up a vote on a catch-all spending bill right before the holidays." As usual, however, the House Freedom Caucus may throw a wrench in Speaker Paul Ryan's gears. The conservative bloc doesn't appear willing to accept any CR that doesn't fund the government into 2017.
"The FBI has uncovered evidence that foreign hackers penetrated two state election databases in recent weeks, prompting the bureau to warn election officials across the country to take new steps to enhance the security of their computer systems." Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson earlier this month conferred with state election officials, offering his department's assistance in scanning for vulnerabilities."