WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate will vote to renew sanctions on Iran for 10 years before adjourning next month, the chamber’s Republican leader said on Wednesday, sending the bill to the White House, where President Barack Obama is expected to sign it into law.
The House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday for the decade-long extension of the Iran Sanctions Act, or ISA, first adopted in 1996 to punish investments in Iran’s energy industry and deter the country’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.
The act will expire at the end of 2016 if it is not renewed.
“We’re going to take up the House bill,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters at the Senate’s weekly Republican leadership news conference. “… And we’re going to pass it.”
The Obama administration and other world powers reached an agreement last year in which Tehran agreed to curb its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
But members of Congress said they wanted the ISA to stay in effect to send a strong message that the United States will respond to provocations by Iran and give any U.S. president the ability to quickly reinstate sanctions if Tehran violated the nuclear agreement.
White House officials have said they did not think the reinstatement was needed, now that the nuclear agreement has been in effect for almost a year. But they also have not raised concerns that a renewal would violate the deal.
Apart from the ISA, the nuclear agreement’s longer-term future became more uncertain when Republican Donald Trump was elected president on Nov. 8, and Republicans kept their majorities in both the Senate and House of Representatives.
Every Republican in Congress opposed the nuclear agreement. And Trump was harshly critical of it as he campaigned.
(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle, Susan Cornwell and Ayesha Rascoe; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)