Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has indicated he would bring a new Iran sanctions bill for a vote.
On Thursday, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey), the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman, and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Illinois) introduced a new sanctions bill against Iran which was co-sponsored by 24 other senators across the aisle.
The White House was quick to condemn the new anti-Iran effort by the hawkish senators on Capitol Hill with Obama’s Press Secretary Jay Carney saying that the president would veto the bill “if it were to pass” Congress.
However, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) told Fox News that he was seeking to secure a veto-proof majority of 67 senators for the bill.
“If the president wants to veto [the bill], we'll override his veto," Graham said.
During his year-end press conference at the White House on Friday, Obama warned once more against the consequences of any new sanctions passed by Congress against Iran.
“If we're serious about negotiations we've got to create an atmosphere in which Iran is willing to move in ways that are uncomfortable for them and contrary to their ideology and rhetoric and their suspicions of us,” Obama said.
Ten US Senate committee chairs also wrote a joint letter to Reid (D-Nevada) on Thursday, saying they were “strongly opposed” to the new initiative.
Among signatories to the letter were Banking Committee Chair Tim Johnson (D-South Dakota) and Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein (D-California).
Nevertheless, Senate aides told Reuters on Friday that Reid had filed Rule 14 for the sanctions bill, which would allow him to bypass the normal process of bringing a bill for a Senate vote through a committee.
The Republican-controlled House of Representatives has already passed a sanctions bill against Iran by a 400-20 vote. The Senate bill had to originate in the Banking Committee before being considered on the full Senate floor.
Supporting the Obama administration, the committee did not hold a vote on the sanctions bill.
And now, Reid’s decision has set the stage for a battle between the 26 hawkish senators and the Obama administration and its supporters in the Senate.
Sen. Feinstein criticized Reid, saying he had not consulted the committee leaders before making the decision.
"This is not a positive thing to do at this particular point in time," she said.
Iranian Foreign Minister and top nuclear negotiator Mohammad Javad Zarif have already warned that any new sanctions against Iran passed by US Congress would kill “the entire deal” reached between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council -- the US, Britain, Russia, France and China -- plus Germany on November 24.
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