Reid Remarks on Iran Sanctions, Protecting American Veterans

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“Like our support for veterans, the Senate’s Iran sanctions policy has historically been solidly bipartisan. The idea of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon is so unthinkable that Democrats and Republicans have always worked together on this policy. Unfortunately, it seems Republicans are trying to erase that history and politicize an issue that has historically been above partisanship.” 

“Ten committee chairmen – as well as Israel’s strongest supporter, AIPAC – also agree that now is not the right time to bring a sanctions package to the floor.” 

“There is too much at stake to play politics with our nation’s Iran policy. Likewise, Republicans should stop putting America’s veterans at risk and help Democrats pass the crucial legislation on the floor.”

 

Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor today regarding the nations Iran policy and the importance of protecting American veterans. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:

There are plenty of issues on which Republicans and Democrats will always disagree. But, historically, Democrats and Republicans have been able to agree on one thing: Congress should do everything in its power to protect those who risked their lives to protect this country.

I had hoped that this work period could be more bipartisan, that the Senate could tackle issues that would be above political games. That’s why I scheduled floor time for a bill to expand health care and job training for veterans of the Armed Forces. Democrats and Republicans alike ought to be able to support this bill, which is sponsored by the Senator from Vermont, Senator Sanders.

Democrats were even willing to work with our Republican colleagues to consider relevant amendments to this legislation. So it was disappointing – if not surprising – when Republicans almost immediately injected partisan politics into a debate over a bill that should be bipartisan – insisting on an unrelated amendment on Iran that they knew could derail the veterans’ bill.

Like our support for veterans, the Senate’s Iran sanctions policy has historically been solidly bipartisan. The idea of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon is so unthinkable that Democrats and Republicans have always worked together on this policy. Unfortunately, it seems Republicans are trying to erase that history and politicize an issue that has historically been above partisanship.

And the Republicans are trying to mislead the American public by saying that a bipartisan majority supports moving forward with new sanctions right now. In fact, many Senators, including some who have cosponsored the new sanctions bill, believe we should not move forward with the bill at this time or on this important bill for veterans. In addition, 10 committee chairmen – as well as Israel’s strongest supporter, AIPAC – also agree that now is not the right time to bring a sanctions package to the floor.

AIPAC was unequivocal in its request for a delay on additional sanctions. This is what AIPAC said: “Stopping the Iranian nuclear program should rest on bipartisan support and… there should not be a vote at this time on the measure.”

Major veterans groups have also come out against including the Iran amendment on this bill, including the American Legion and the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.  The American Legion said, “Sanctions against Iran have no place in a U.S. Senate debate over legislation that aims to expand health care, education opportunities, employment and other benefits for veterans.”

But Iran should make no mistake: if they fail to comply with the current interim agreement, or fail to make progress toward a comprehensive agreement eliminating their nuclear weapons development efforts, Congress will act without hesitation to pass additional sanctions.  That decision will be made in the interests of our national security, not as a partisan ploy. There is too much at stake to play politics with our nation’s Iran policy.

Likewise, Republicans should stop putting America’s veterans at risk and help Democrats pass the crucial legislation on the floor. Shame on the Republicans for bringing base politics into a bill to help veterans.

 

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