January 21, 2014 | Quote

White House Seeks to Bypass Congress on Iran Deal

The White House has been exploring ways to circumvent Congress and unilaterally lift sanctions on Iran once a final nuclear agreement is reached, according to sources with knowledge of White House conversations and congressional insiders familiar with its strategy.

The issue of sanctions relief has become one of the key sticking points in the Iran debate, with lawmakers pushing for increased economic penalties and the White House fighting to roll back regulations.

While many in Congress insist that only the legislative branch can legally repeal sanctions, senior White House officials have been examining strategies to skirt Congress, according to those familiar with internal conversations.

“It’s no secret that the president, with executive power, can determine sanctions implementation, particularly with waivers and the decision not to sanction certain entities,” said Jonathan Schanzer, a former terrorism finance analyst at the Treasury Department, which is responsible for enforcing sanctions.

“The financial pressure has always been about closing loopholes and identifying new ones to close,” Schanzer added. “If you stop that process of constant gardening, you leave a backdoor open.”

The White House has been known to disregard portions of the sanctions laws that it disagrees with, according to Schanzer.

“Just about every time there has been new sanctions legislation, the White House has watered it down in one way or another for various reasons,” he said. “The implementation is always an imperfect implementation of what Congress wants.”

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