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Congress braces for round two of Iran fight
The Senate is heading toward round two in the fight over the Iran nuclear deal.
Senators are considering extending a package of sanctions against Tehran set to expire next year. The sanctions law—known as the Iran Sanctions Act—includes provisions targeting Iran’s nuclear program, as well as ballistic missies and the country's energy sector.
“I think it’s likely that Congress will act on it sometime next year,” Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), the ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, told The Hill before lawmakers left for the holiday recess.
He said senators suggested during a December briefing that they were looking at an extension as early as January or February, trying to get Stephen Mull, Obama’s point person on the deal, to weigh in on the potential timeline.
Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) said earlier this month during a Foreign Relations hearing that "in January many members of Congress will call for the swift renewal" of the sanctions law.
But that timing could coincide with the deal's “implementation day,” potentially putting the administration in the awkward position of trying to lift sanctions against Iran just as lawmakers try to extend them.
Supporters of extending the sanctions law say it’s needed so the administration, or future administrations, has the ability to “snap back” sanctions into place if Iran violates the nuclear deal.
They argue that a pair of recent missile tests—which have frustrated lawmakers in both parties—underscores the worry that Iran will try to cheat on the nuclear agreement.
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