WASHINGTON - Lawmakers in the United States have approved four different pieces of legislation targeting Iran and its proxy terror group in Lebanon, Hezbollah, over the last 24 hours. The legislation spree, which received strong support from both parties, comes two weeks after U.S. President Donald Trump's speech on the Iran nuclear deal, in which the President did not cancel the deal, but instead, asked Congress to take a tougher line against Iran and to decide the fate of the international deal within the next two months.
The most recent piece of legislation was approved on Thursday, when the House of Representatives approved a bipartisan bill targeting Iran's ballistic missiles program. The bill was authored by Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), the most senior Democrat serving on that same committee. It was passed by a margin of 423-2.
Both Royce and Engel voted against the Iran nuclear deal in 2015, but have recently encouraged President Trump and their colleagues on Capitol Hill not to scrap the deal, but instead to make sure it is strongly enforced, while promoting a tough policy against Iran in areas that are not covered by the deal, such as the Islamic Republic's ballistic missile program. Royce has stated that his current approach towards the nuclear deal is "to enforce the hell out of it."
Earlier on Wednesday, three other bills targeting Iran and Hezbollah were approved with unanimous bi-partisan support. The bills approved will impose sanctions on Hezbollah for using Lebanese citizens as "human shields" in any future conflict with Israel; urge the European Union to designate Hezbollah in its entirety - not just the group's military wing - as a terror organization; and put new limitations on funding that could benefit Hezbollah.
The support within both parties for these bills underscores the will among members of Congress to demonstrate a tougher line towards Iran, without necessarily destroying the nuclear deal. More controversial pieces of legislation, such as a bill proposed by Republicans in the Senate to create an automatic mechanism for re-imposing sanctions on Iran after the termination of some parts of the nuclear deal, are still far from certain to pass, mainly because most Democrats - and even some moderate Republicans - fear such a move could put the entire nuclear deal in danger.
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