Obama campaign surrogate Robert Wexler maintained in a debate with Dan Senor, a foreign policy advisor to Mitt Romney, that the president “has ushered in the most serious comprehensive set of sanctions against Iran that any nation has faced in the history of the world,” in an interview Tuesday with CNN.
Senor responded, “The sanctions you are taking credit for and the administration is taking credit for, the administration fought every step of the way….if what you’re saying is true, why are Congressional Democrats criticizing the administration’s slow pace?
Wexler insisted, “Congressional Democrats are not criticizing the president.”
Here are the top five examples of Congressional Democrats criticizing the administration for working to water down tough Iran sanctions over the past several months:
1. Sen. Robert Menendez (D., N.J.) blasts Obama for lobbying against comprehensive sanctions on Iran’s oil sector.
2. Rep. Howard Berman (D., Calif.) called for stricter sanctions in May.
“Prominent lawmakers and Middle East experts on Thursday urged Washington to enact stricter sanctions on Iran, with one former senior diplomat urging ‘the most robust sanctions in history.’ […]
Instead of talking to the Iranians, Ros-Lehtinen said, the administration should ‘accelerate and expand our sanctions to compel the Iranians to verifiably and permanently abandon their dangerous polices.’
California Rep. Howard Berman, the top Democrat on the panel and usually a White House ally on foreign affairs matters, also endorsed stiffer sanctions.”
3. Sen. Robert Casey (D., Penn.) on the Kirk-Menendez Amendment to imposed stricter sanctions, during a Committee on Foreign Relations hearing on Iran where Treasury and State department officials testified in December 2011:
“So there’s a sense of — of urgency here, or there’s a — I think a greater sense of urgency that a lot of people feel in our country. And perception is very important in these situations, as you know. But there doesn’t seem to be an administration policy or set of actions that’s commensurate with that sense of urgency. And I — look, I’m a co-sponsor of what Senator Menendez and Senator Kirk are trying to do, and I’ve long labored in this vineyard. But when we read letters that talk — like the one from Sec. Geithner, continue to work with, you know, negatively effect our — many of our closest allies likely to — to have allies resent our actions or resist following our lead. It’s — and we all want to have collaboration. We all want to have a steady effort here. But this — this has moved way beyond where we were in 2010. And the problem here — let’s assume for a second that there was no nuclear threat, if we can magically remove that threat. Just the impact this central bank has on being the banker for a lot of bad guys in that region. Hamas, Hezbollah, all of the — so many bad guys that they provide resources for. That’s — that’s another reason for the sense of urgency. So I think that’s what you’re hearing here.”
4. Sen. Ben Cardin (D., Md.) on the Kirk-Menendez Amendment to imposed stricter sanctions, during a Committee on Foreign Relations hearing on Iran where Treasury and State department officials testified in December 2011:
“So I would just urge you with the sense of urgency as it relates, not just to this amendment, but to this issue. Now, we’ve all talked about Iran. And let me put it in context. Iran is a extremely dangerous country. They’re supporting terrorism, and we’ve known what cost that has been to the American people. They are abusing their own people. They are supporting serious efforts on the abuse of the people of Syria. They — and the list goes on and on. … But it starts with U.S. leadership. We’ve seen over and over again that without the United States stepping forward, the international community is slow. In many cases will not act at all.
“So dealing with the Central Bank of Iran, your own reports show that they are money laundering. They are assisting the proliferation of nuclear weapons and they are assisting terrorism. We’ve cut off relations with the Central Bank of Iran. It’s a clear signal to the international community that we are very serious about drying up the financial capacity of Iran. That’s the only way we believe that sanctions will effectively change course of Iran on its nuclear ambitions for a nuclear weapon. That brings me, again, to the timing issue. If we don’t move forward rapidly, then I’m not sure it can be effective. And what I don’t understand, and maybe you can help clarify for me, the Menendez amendment gives you two months before any action takes place. You have another three months after that to cool off issues. And then after the five months you have the waiver authority. So it seems to me it speaks volumes as to ratifying the policy that you’ve already stated. The Central Bank of Iran is money laundering, it’s proliferating, and it’s supporting terrorism. … So I’m not exactly sure the resistance to the passage of the amendment. And maybe you can help clarify this for me because all the horrible things you’ve said I’d heard before.”
5. Sen. Chris Coons (D., Del.) on the Kirk-Menendez Amendment to imposed stricter sanctions, during a Committee on Foreign Relations hearing on Iran where Treasury and State department officials testified in December 2011:
“You are pushing back very hard on an amendment by Sen. Menendez that, by its structure, gives months more for diplomacy. I think the Iranians, by their actions, have finally made abundantly clear to the international community what they’re doing and their intentions. And the statements certainly of Ahmadinejad are appalling, gravely concerning, and a clear source of concern — legitimate concern by the people of Israel, the United States and all of our allies. So I hope you take this very seriously. And in the absence of any clear input from you on what is insufficient about the Menendez Amendment, I intend to vote for it today. So there’s not a lot of time for back channel communication. This is an active issue. And I mean that both between our branches and between the United States and Iran.”