Reuters: The Bush administration has told lawmakers it opposes legislation to impose sanctions on foreign firms and countries working in Iran, but the lawmakers said on Tuesday they intended to advance the bill anyway.
WASHINGTON, March 14 (Reuters) – The Bush administration has told lawmakers it opposes legislation to impose sanctions on foreign firms and countries working in Iran, but the lawmakers said on Tuesday they intended to advance the bill anyway.
Florida Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a key sponsor of the measure, said she would not bow to the administration’s demand for more flexibility in enforcing the sanctions.
The House of Representatives International Relations Committee is to consider the bill on Wednesday, despite the White House’s opposition.
That comes as the United States, Britain and France moved a dispute over Iran’s nuclear ambitions to the full U.N. Security Council after failing on Tuesday to win Russia and China’s support for a proposal to pressure Tehran.
Backers of the sanctions legislation said it would squeeze Iran’s economy, strengthening the response to Tehran’s pursuit of nuclear technology which the United States says could be used to make nuclear weapons.
The legislation would require U.S. sanctions on any company or nation investing more than $20 million in Iran’s energy sector, and require U.S.-based pension funds to disclose Iran-related investment.
The United States has long-standing sanctions barring American companies and individuals from doing business with Iran.
“Despite the fact that the bill affords the necessary flexibility to the president and despite my best efforts and those of Mr. Lantos to make changes to the legislation toward achieving a mutually acceptable agreement, the administration will not support (it),” said Ros-Lehtinen, who crafted the bill with Rep. Tom Lantos of California, top Democrat on the committee.
Because previous sanctions on Iran were waived under the Clinton administration “and due to the gravity of the Iran threat, we do not believe it would be beneficial to U.S. national security and foreign policy interests to weaken the legislation,” Ros-Lehtinen said.
Rep. Henry Hyde, the Illinois Republican who chairs the committee, will decide whether to support the bill based on “how the amending process develops,” his spokesman said.