New Jersey Rep. Leonard Lance (R-Dist. 7) was among the cosponsors of a bipartisan bill that strengthens United States sanctions against Iran.
Lawmakers in the House of Representatives, led by Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Ron Klein (D-Fla.) and seven other lawmakers, introduced the bill on March 8. It would require the Government Accountability Office to publish a list of potential sanctions-act violators every month, require the president to complete investigations of violators within 45 days, and notify Congress of those violating the sanctions act.
Lance told NJJN he was disappointed that sanctions have not worked in thwarting Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
“Time is of the essence,” he said. “Iran is getting ever closer to having nuclear capability. I’m concerned that the White House is not acting quickly enough. Perhaps, with some prodding from Congress, that can change.”
He said Iran’s nuclear ambitions “are a threat not only to Israel but as a destabilizing influence on the Arab countries, too. They should be just as wary as Israel is. This is a problem for the entire world.”
The Iran Sanctions Enhancement Act introduced March 8 is an amendment to the Iran Sanctions Act adopted in 1996. It follows an investigation by The New York Times published the previous Sunday revealing that the federal government under successive presidents has awarded more than $107 billion in grants, contracts, and other benefits to foreign and multinational American companies conducting business in Iran.
The probe found that $15 billion went to companies that helped Iran develop its oil and gas reserves.
While the U.S. government does prohibit most types of trade between American companies and Iran, multiple administrations have struggled to exert the ban over foreign companies and foreign subsidiaries of American companies. In theory, foreign companies can be punished for investing more than $20 million per year to develop Iran’s oil and gas fields, but punishments — such as withholding government contracts — have never been enforced for fear of angering U.S. allies, mostly in the European Union.
In addition to Kirk, Klein, and Lance, the bill was supported by Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) and Aaron Schock (R-Ill.).
JTA contributed to this article.