|Senate Majority Leader says no immediate plan to allow vote on Iran sanctions bill||
TEHRAN – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made clear on Tuesday he has no immediate plan to allow a vote on a bill that would slap new sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program, Reuters reported.
Fifty-nine of the 100 senators - including 16 of President Barack Obama’s fellow Democrats - support the bill, despite Obama’s warning that its passage could jeopardize delicate international negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program.
New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is a lead sponsor of the measure, which has caused friction between the White House and some Democrats in Congress.
Iran has warned that it would back away from the negotiations if any new sanctions were passed. Obama promised to veto the measure if it passes both the Senate and House of Representatives.
Asked when he might allow a Senate vote on the legislation, Reid acknowledged the support, but also noted that 10 Democratic committee chairs had written to him opposing it.
“Let’s see how this plays out,” he told reporters.
“The legislative process is working forward here. I am going to sit and be as fair an umpire as I can,” Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said.
Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the Senate, told reporters he believed the vote should take place, and suggested that backers might be able to muster the 67 votes necessary to override a presidential veto.
“We’re going to continue to press in order to allow a vote on an issue that obviously enjoys the support of a very large bipartisan majority here in the Senate,” he said.
A weekend agreement to begin implementing a temporary nuclear deal between Iran and world powers on January 20 helped reinforce the argument that the sanctions bill should not go ahead while negotiations continue.
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