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Dems in final bid to push Iran sanctions

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Democrats are making a final push to pass Iran sanctions legislation.

Senate Democrats cried foul last week when Republicans blocked an attempt to pass a combined version of two bills that have been languishing for months: one that would end loopholes allowing U.S. companies to own subsidiaries that deal with Iran; and one that would facilitate divestment from Iran.

The White House opposes the bills chiefly because they encroach on executive foreign policy privilege, but Senate Republicans – who back sanctions laws – have never fully explained their opposition to the legislation, which is aimed at getting Iran to stand down from its suspected nuclear program.

Democrats have accused them of seeking to prevent Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), who authored the divestment legislation, from scoring a legislative victory as he runs for president. Versions of both bills have passed overwhelmingly in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), who led the failed attempt last week to attached a combined sanctions amendment to a defense spending bill, worked on Thursday and Friday with U.S. Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), the chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee to create a new bill that would pass both Houses in Congress’ final days. One proposal was to attach it to a must-pass bill that would pave the way for U.S.-India nuclear cooperation.

It was not clear Friday afternoon where the effort stood; Congress is scheduled to adjourn Friday, but might go into “overtime” next week in an effort to pass legislation that would bail out the crisis-stricken U.S. financial sector.

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