House Votes on Iran, Russia Sanctions Bill

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On Tuesday, the House voted on a bill which added additional sanctions to existing measures against Iran, Russia, and North Korea. Prior to the vote, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman, Ed Royce, denounced the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Council, as well as North Korean and Russian provocations.

The final vote was 419 for to 3 against, as the House passed the legislation by a wide margin.  The legislation has strong support in the United States Senate where it passed 98 for to 2 against.

Significance of the Sanctions Bill

This legislation attempts to continue to pressure North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons and cease its hostility towards South Korea.  The House also wants to place great pressure on the Iran to cease providing support to terrorists. In particular, America wants to limit Iranian influence in Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain, and Yemen.  Finally, this legislation responds to Russian attempts to influence our elections and harass or invade our allies.

Impediments to Success

These sanctions were initially impeded by concerns from both sides of the aisle, as important figures from both parties seem embarrassed by the implications of additional sanctions on Iran and Russia (sanctioning North Korea was less controversial).

First, President Barack Obama placed enormous importance on the JCPOA, the Iran Deal.  Some believe that adding additional sanctions may threaten this agreement.  The Islamic Republic of Iran has condemned the sanctions legislation.

On the other hand, President Trump may resent any attempt by Congress to impose additional penalties on Russia or Iran.  During the last few days, Trump has been noncommittal about the legislation. There are some indications that Trump will support the legislation, including the addition of sanctions against Iran and North Korea. Also, it is not clear whether Trump really strongly opposes stronger Russia sanctions. Trump has demonstrated a commitment to many of our allies in Eastern Europe against the Russian threat.

This legislation, in spite of disturbing recent developments, reaffirms that the United States will maintain her critical role in the world.  At least, this is the overwhelming opinion of both parties in Congress.  It is not yet clear what President Trump’s response to this legislation will be at this time.  In all likelihood, it will arrive on his desk with a veto-proof majority.