WASHINGTON (JTA) — The House Foreign Affairs Committee will mark up Iran sanctions legislation at the end of the month.
Committee chairman Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.) announced the Oct. 28 meeting on Oct. 15. He had said last month that he would move forward with the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act in October "absent some compelling evidence why I should do otherwise."
The bill, which has 327 co-sponsors, is likely to be passed by the committee. It then would be brought to the House floor by the Democratic leadership.
The White House has not taken a position on the legislation, indicating that it wants to try talks with Iran first, but has not opposed congressional efforts on sanctions.
The legislation would allow the sanctioning of companies that help Iran import or produce refined petroleum, which is seen as potentially having a large impact on Iran’s economy because the country imports 40 percent of its refined petroleum.
"Given the length of time it ordinarily takes the House and Senate to move a significant piece of legislation to the president’s desk, it is important that we initiate the process promptly with a mark-up on Oct. 28," said Berman.
He said, however, that the sanctions legislation is the "fourth best option to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapons capability." His first preference, he said, is engagement with Iran, but "should engagement not yield the desired results within a very short time, then my second preference would be tough, hard-hitting multilateral sanctions endorsed by the U.N. Security Council."
Berman added that if U.N. sanctions cannot be agreed upon, the United States should work with "like-minded nations" on sanctions, and "only when we judge that these other options will not succeed in a timely manner should we turn to" this legislation.