Despite a strong congressional push to impose new sanctions on Iran should it renege on a tentative nuclear deal or fail to strike a final bargain, it is increasingly unlikely the Hill will act in 2013, and the outlook for 2014 is unclear.
The Senate calendar is running out of time, and there are too many avenues for opponents to block action, leaving lots of uncertainty about how quickly the chamber might be able to act in 2014, if at all.
"There is no way we're going to see any sort of sanctions legislation come out of the Senate this year regardless of whether it has a delayed trigger," said a senior congressional aide.
"With the days rapidly falling off both the congressional and diplomatic calendar ahead of negotiations on a final nuclear deal, there are few days left to help enhance American negotiation leverage," said Mark Dubowitz, chairman of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. "If passed before the end of the year, a sanctions-in-waiting bill will strengthen [Treasury] Undersecretary David Cohen's pledge to international companies not to test him."
He added, "If not, and sanctions are further delayed for more time, Iran will gain six months of relief as the international market psychology shifts from fear to greed and the Iranian market moves from doom to hope. That will translate into tens of billions of dollars in direct and indirect economic relief over the next six months."