In a Friday joint statement, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the number two House Republican, and Representative Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, stressed Congress’ resolve to work with US President Donald Trump’s administration to iron out a strategy against Iran.
“Immediate action towards this goal will come from the House next week as we vote on legislation that furthers sanctions on Hezbollah and Iran’s missile proliferation,” they said.
The new bipartisan sanctions bill against Iran, which is expected to pass the Senate, targets entities with assets outside the US if they are found to support Iran’s ballistic missile program.
The development comes a week after Trump refused to formally certify that Iran is complying with its nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), with world powers, and warned that he might ultimately terminate the deal.
While Trump did not pull Washington out of the nuclear accord, he gave Congress 60 days to decide whether to reimpose economic sanctions against Tehran that were lifted under the pact. Reimposing sanctions would put the US at odds with other signatories to the accord, including the European Union, which has sharply criticized Washington’s decision about the deal.
EU member states have urged US lawmakers not to reimpose nuclear-related sanctions on Tehran and warned against serious consequences for regional peace if the international agreement backed by the UN Security Council was not maintained.
On Friday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Washington was not opposed to European countries doing business with Iran, contradicting Trump’s belligerent rhetoric against Tehran.
While many of Trump’s fellow Republicans say they see no immediate need to reimpose the nuclear-related sanctions against Iran, congressional aides say House lawmakers are currently focusing on putting pressure on Iran through other channels such as the missile and Hezbollah sanctions.
On Thursday, Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) sharply denounced Washington’s hostile policies against Iran, vowing that the country would speed up its conventional missile program and regional role in response to enemy threats.