One of the outstanding issues in the defense authorization debate had been how to deal with Iran sanctions, but Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., took a significant step Thursday to resolve the issue by vowing to move a stand-alone bill after Thanksgiving recess.
Senators of both parties, but especially Republicans more hawkish on foreign policy, have been advocating for increased sanctions on Iran in response to the Middle Eastern nation's nuclear weapons program.
The Obama administration has been urging Congress to hold off on further action until negotiations between Western powers and Iran had been completed, but Reid appears prepared to take up new legislation. Doing so might help ease the process for the National Defense Authorization Act, which has been delayed by disagreements over amendments, of which more than 400 have been offered.
"The Senate must be prepared to move forward with a new bipartisan Iran sanctions bill, when the Senate returns after Thanksgiving recess. And I am committed to do so," Reid said to open the floor Thursday, before addressing why he has decided to invoke the "nuclear option" to eliminate filibusters of most nominees.
"A number of Senators have offered their own amendments on Iran in the defense authorization bill, and I know that other senators also have their own sanctions bills. I will support a bill that would broaden the scope of our current petroleum sanctions, place limitations on trade with strategic sectors of the Iranian economy that support its nuclear ambitions, as well as pursue those who divert goods to Iran.
"While I support the administration’s diplomatic effort, I believe we need to leave our legislative options open to act on a new, bipartisan sanctions bill in December, shortly after we return," Reid said.