Iran – Legislative Action on New Restrictions. On the one-year anniversary of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) Thursday, President Obama issued a statement saying: “[T]he Iran Deal has succeeded in rolling back Iran’s nuclear program, avoiding further conflict and making us safer.”
Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tennessee), along with Senators Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey), Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), Marco Rubio (R-Florida), and Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) introduced the Countering Iranian Threats Act of 2016 on Thursday. The bipartisan bill would expand U.S. sanctions for ballistic missile development, support for terrorism, and other illicit Iranian actions; sanctions transfers of conventional weapons to or from Iran. It would also extend the expiring Iran Sanctions Act. Senate Leader McConnell also introduced a measure (S. 3281) that would simply extend the Iran Sanctions Act.
Defying a presidential veto threat, the House of Representatives passed three measures targeting Iran: (1) H.R. 4992, the United States Financial System Protection Act; (2) H.R. 5119, the No H2O from Iran Act; and (3) H.R. 5631, the Iran Accountability Act of 2016. The White House issued a strongly-worded threat against all three measures, pledging that President Obama plans to veto all three measures should they pass both chambers. However, the measures are unlikely to pass the Senate, when Congress returns from a seven week recess in early September.
Venezuela – Sanctions Bill Signed Into Law. On Friday, President Obama signed into law S. 2845, the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Extension Act of 2016, which extends U.S. sanctions imposed on persons responsible for violations of human rights in Venezuela through December 2019.
TTIP – Negotiations Conclude; Much More Yet to Be Done. At the conclusion of the 14th round of Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations last week, chief U.S. negotiator Dan Mullaney and EU negotiator Ignacio Garcia Bercero noted there remain outstanding issues – such as geographical indicators, tariffs, digital trade, services and government procurement – but also reiterated a commitment to conclude the year with a final deal. Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Mullaney spotlighted the week’s achievements in a statement, available here. As part of its transparency initiative, the European Commission published the text of nine proposals tabled at the latest round of negotiations in Brussels on Thursday. U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström are expected to meet in Bratislava, Slovakia at the end of September.
TPP – Administration Working to Address Outstanding Concerns. At an event hosted by The Christian Science Monitor, Ambassador Froman said the Administration is working through each of the outstanding policy issues complicating congressional approval of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The U.S. financial services sector came out in support of the TPP deal after the Administration addressed its complaint that financial data was exempted from the TPP’s prohibition on data localization. TPP opponents – labor unions and some Democrats, such as Representative Rosa DeLauro (Connecticut) – are reportedly looking to use the congressional summer recess break to campaign against a possible “lame-duck” vote (after the November elections) on the deal. At a WITA event Thursday evening, House Ways and Means (“W&M”) Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas), along with Trade Subcommittee Chairman Dave Reichert (R-Washington) and W&M Member Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon), spoke to an audience of trade industry experts of the need to educate Americans of the benefits of liberalized trade, such as the TPP deal.
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