Key U.S. senator opposes 'rush' to vote on Iran nuclear sanctions

Reuters News
Posted: Jan 20, 2015 2:46 PM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The top Democrat on the U.S. Senate Banking Committee said on Tuesday he did not want to rush to vote on legislation to impose more sanctions on Iran, speaking a day after the panel said it would delay hearings on the issue for a week.

"There's not a rush on this. These negotiations are going forward. I don't want to disrupt the negotiations," Senator Sherrod Brown, the ranking member of the banking committee, told reporters at the U.S. Capitol.

The banking committee had been scheduled to hold public and classified hearings on Iran this week, ahead of debate and a vote on Thursday on a bill sponsored by Republican Senator Mark Kirk and Democrat Robert Menendez to impose more sanctions if there is no nuclear agreement by the end of June.

But the panel said on Monday it would wait until next week to hold hearings. Brown referred questions about the reason for the delay to Senator Richard Shelby, the panel's chairman. Shelby aides could not immediately be reached for comment.

Diplomats said Sunday that Iran and major powers would meet again next month to try to narrow differences over Tehran's nuclear program.

President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron on Friday urged members of Congress to hold off on legislation, saying it would upset international talks and increase the likelihood of a military confrontation with Tehran.

Obama is also expected to encourage Congress not to move toward sanctions during his annual State of the Union address on Tuesday night.

Brown said administration officials have been talking to lawmakers about the bill, and that committee members, especially new ones, needed more information before moving ahead.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Tom Brown)