A Senate committee on Thursday easily approved legislation that would impose tougher economic sanctions on Iran if ongoing talks about its nuclear arms program remain stalled.
The Banking Committee, in a bipartisan 18-4 vote, approved a new Iran sanctions bill crafted by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., and Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill.
Senators from both panels spoke in support of the legislation, arguing the threat of new economic penalties will cause Iranian officials to take the ongoing “P5+1 talks” more seriously.
“Sanctions are what got Iran to the table,” the Senate’s No. 3 Democrat, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, said. “If they don’t come to a strong deal that prevents a nuclear Iran, period, there will be additional sanctions by this body.”
Menendez and other Democrats are pushing Republican chamber leaders to put off a vote until at least March 24, essentially giving Iranian negotiators two months to agree to concessions being pushed by the United States and other Western countries.
The Senate’s agenda beyond a weeklong recess that starts on Feb. 16 is unclear.