WASHINGTON (JTA) — A letter urging House negotiators to preserve tough new Iran sanctions in a defense budget bill over Obama administration objections is being circulated in the House of Representatives.
The National Defense Authorization Act passed Tuesday by the U.S. Senate includes an amendment authored by Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) that would tighten sanctions on Iran’s energy sector, targeting entities that circumvent existing banking sanctions by paying for Iranian oil in gold and other precious metals.
"The inclusion of these bipartisan provisions in the NDAA is a critical next step in our legislative effort to bring crippling economic pressure on the Iranian regime," said the message circulating Wednesday from Reps. Robert Dold (R-Ill.) and Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) asking their House colleagues to sign their letter to House negotiators set to attend conference talks reconciling the Senate and House versions of the measure.
The House National Defense Authorization Act, passed earlier this year, does not include the new sanctions language.
The Obama administration has expressed its opposition to the new sanctions, saying they will inhibit other countries from abiding by existing sanctions targeting Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons program.
"This letter strongly encourages House conferees to support and protect this language in conference committee negotiations, and to resist efforts to weaken or water down the provisions," read the message from Dold and Deutch to their colleagues.
The letter attached to their message is addressed to Reps. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) and Adam Smith (D-Wash.), the top Republican and Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, who will lead the House side in conference talks on the National Defense Authorization Act.
"The Menendez-Kirk-Lieberman provisions are critical next steps in our legislative effort to bring crippling economic pressure on the Iranian regime," according to the letter. In their message, Dold and Deutch ask colleagues to sign by the end of business Friday.
Dold, who replaced Kirk in 2010 in the suburban Chicago area 10th District of Illinois, was defeated in November elections by Brad Schneider.