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Students go to Hill to lobby for Iran sanctions

More than 200 students from Washington and New York universities took a break from studying for final exams last week to lobby Congress to support a bill sanctioning Iran for its nuclear ambitions.

The lobby mission, sponsored by several student groups from all the schools, was a day-long affair that yielded 52 separate meetings with lawmakers from more than 35 states, according to statistics gathered by the George Washington University group GW Acting Politically for Israel.

The event, which drew students from Yeshiva University, George Washington University and American University, began with a talk on lobbying by Sen. Joseph Liberman (D-Conn.) and AIPAC lobbyist David Gillette. The talk was followed by several hours of meetings, at which student representatives urged lawmakers to support the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanction Act, which would impose sanctions on Iran’s energy sector in an effort to halt the nation’s nuclear plans.

The bill has yet to be voted on, though House leaders have said it will come to the floor before Congress breaks for the holidays this month.

Eric Gallagher, co-president of GW Acting Politically for Israel, on Monday deemed the event a success.

“They were generally very, very receptive to our message,” Gallagher said of the lawmakers the students met. “We found that the problem isn’t a lack of support for the bill but that it’s on the backburner because of the healthcare bill. We’re hoping to urge the leadership to get the bill up for a vote [soon].”

This month’s effort marks the third time GW Acting Politically for Israel has lobbied Congress to sanction Iran, Gallagher said.

Alison Silver, co-president of the Yeshiva University Political Action Committee, said her group had plans to follow up on the lobby mission’s success. She said the group was planning a student letter-writing campaign to members of Congress to urge them to support the bill.

“I probably had 50 or 60 emails and people who came up to me and said how glad they were that they came” to lobby, Silver said. “Hopefully we made an impact on Capitol Hill, and we made an impact on-campus.” 

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