No. 2 House Dem blasts 'irresponsible' Iran comments
January 14th, 2014
05:35 PM ET

No. 2 House Dem blasts 'irresponsible' Iran comments

By Deirdre Walsh

Rep. Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 House Democrat, blasted as "irresponsible" comments by Obama administration officials who have suggested that lawmakers pushing for tighter sanctions on Iran are increasing the risk of war.

Hoyer, of Maryland, didn't name names, but an aide said he was referring to several comments from various officials over the past month.

The New York Times quoted Obama's deputy national security adviser, Benjamin Rhodes, on the subject on Tuesday.

"It just stands to reason if you close the diplomatic option, you're left with a difficult choice of waiting to see if sanctions cause Iran to capitulate, which we don't think will happen, or considering military action," Rhodes said, according to the paper.

Hoyer bristled at any notion support for stronger sanctions equals a push for war.

"I think that is absolutely untrue - an irresponsible assertion and ought to be clarified and retracted by those who have made it with the administration."

"Nobody believes, as far as I know, that going to war with Iran is anything but a dangerous and objective that none of us would seek," Hoyer said.

Hoyer has previously expressed concerns with a six-month agreement the United States and other world powers struck with Iran in November to curb its nuclear ambitions in return for easing up on some economic sanctions that have hurt its economy.

Late last year, Hoyer was in discussions with

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor about a bipartisan Iran resolution in the House.

That effort fell apart shortly before they were going to schedule a vote, according to several congressional sources.

Senate Democratic leaders are wrestling with how to move forward on a bipartisan proposal to impose new sanctions on Iran, if it doesn't live up to terms of the interim agreement due to take effect on January 20.

The Obama administration has argued strenuously against such a step, saying it could complicate negotiations on a longer-term deal on Iran's nuclear ambitions.

House Republican leaders are considering putting the Senate measure on floor for a vote, according to a top House GOP leadership aide.

Hoyer said he's watching closely to see how Iran complies with an upcoming deadline in the current agreement, but he said he's opposed to a House vote on the Senate measure.

He noted the House already passed a bipartisan bill last summer that still awaits Senate action.

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Filed under: Congress • Iran
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    January 15, 2014 at 11:14 pm | Reply
  30. RM1234

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    January 15, 2014 at 9:30 am | Reply
  31. Rudy NYC

    What purpose are sanctions supposed to serve? Aren't sanctions supposed to make a nation, or a regime, change their current course? Are not sanctions supposed to bring them to the negotiating table to work out a settlement of differences? Isn't that the point where we appear to be at with Iran?

    Haven't existing sanctions brought Iran to the negotiating table? Don't opponents to the deal understand that you have to give a little to get a little? Don't the opponents understand that while thre is a six month easing of sanctions, that there will be weapons inspectors allowed into the country? Don't they know that the weapons inspectors who will stay indefinitely, beyond the six month period? Don't they realize that the sanctions resume after six months, with inspectors on the ground?

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  32. Random

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  33. J.V.Hodgson

    here we go again waffle, waffle, waffle, Obama ( hello it p5 +1) have agreed this approach with certain sanctions progressively removed with instant re-imposition if the deal is not maintained.
    No one knows whether this will work out or not!?
    Personally I hope it does irrespective of whatever majority votes exist in Congress and Senate.
    Peace with Iran at LOWER COST THAN WAR WITH IRAN, is most appropriate/ cost effective.
    Regards,
    Hodgson

    January 15, 2014 at 3:39 am | Reply
  34. Matt

    It is how it all plays out and it puts the President in an awful position and then thus the country and the region. Now those with the position to use military force and those who would use military force on Syria their position is clear on where sanctions go. Now the sanctions bill would pass, yet action Syria would not. So it leaves in doubt the position of Congress on what happens after sanctions and to the validity of the US threat to US force.

    As it stands temporary sanction relief would be reversed, the new sanctions passed but to be enacted then a third round of sanctions to any violation. Now Bush was told do not touch Iran without approval, Obama could not get the Syria approval through on WMD strike, yet the Iran sanctions bill would pass so if this occurs on Iran in relation to running out negotiations and the sanctions regime or the temporary agreement, then the military option is taken off the table or the President as on Syria is in an awful position.

    In which he has to do at a far worse strategic timing do what Bush was told not to do unilateral without consulting law makers. So consult and not get it passed, do not act on Presidential authority alone. What happens then when the threat of military action is removed is the overt nuclear program becomes weaponized. That then places Israel in very difficult position, worsens the US strategic position is the US would be forced into a reactive strike and not pre-emptive strike after Israel action with approval of lawmakers or without with only Presidential authority?.

    January 15, 2014 at 2:11 am | Reply
  35. George patton

    This jerk Hoyer has it all wrong! Anyone with half a brain knows that those idiotic "sanctions" will go a long way in derailing the talks between us and the Iranians!!! This is one time I agree with the POTUS.

    January 14, 2014 at 7:48 pm | Reply
    • RonC

      Well George, it looks like you are the one with half a brain. Hoyer is maintaining that another round of sanctions now would probably put Iran in the "tha heck with you people" mode and forget the talks. We are not the only Country involved in this, there are others and they feel the same way the President does.

      January 15, 2014 at 12:10 pm | Reply
      • Rudy NYC

        Are you sure that Hoyer is in favor of the temporary agreement? This is from the article.

        "Hoyer has previously expressed concerns with a six-month agreement the United States and other world powers struck with Iran in November to curb its nuclear ambitions in return for easing up on some economic sanctions that have hurt its economy."

        January 15, 2014 at 2:00 pm |

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