Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) officially introduced their Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2015 with 16 original co-sponsors and more expected in the days to come.
The Senate Banking Committee is expected to mark up the bill on Thursday. Senate aides have told PJM that there will be amendments coming down the pipeline.
In addition to Kirk and Menendez, this year’s reintroduction of Iran sanctions came with co-sponsors Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.).
It would implement new sanctions on the Islamic Republic after the June 30 negotiations deadline if a deal is not reached.
The administration would be required to submit any agreement to Congress within five days. Congress would then have 30 days to review the pact before the president can give Iran any sanctions relief agreed to at the P5+1. There also would need to be certification that a sanctions waiver is in the national security interest of the U.S.
If Congress acts before the deadline, reimposition of sanctions could happen as early as August, specifically targeting the petroleum and financial sectors as well as regime officials.
“The clock is ticking on a nuclear Iran, and the longer they have to build a bomb, the closer we are to witnessing a nuclear war in the Middle East,” Kirk said in a statement. “Sanctions against Iran have been signed into law four times with bipartisan, veto-proof majorities in both Houses. The time for action is now.”
Senate Dems co-sponsoring the bill want a vote after the March 24 framework deadline. That would put the congressional action after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s March 3 address to a joint session of Congress, and after the giant AIPAC conference in D.C. at which Bibi will also speak.
Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said even the markup of the bill is “something the Obama administration doesn’t want.”
“They’ve said that. They put pressure on their fellow Democrats not to support it. But we’re going to bring it out, and we’re going to let people vote up or down on it,” Shelby told Fox Business. “I hope they will vote the right thing, not the political thing.”