Reid, Johnson, and Shelby have been working on a "manager's package" to add to the Senate bill that would address Paul's issue and incorporate the Kirk amendment (find the text and a detailed summary here), but the Kirk language will be added as a non-binding "sense of the senate," rather than as binding provisions of law.
The text of the latest version of the manager's package, obtained by The Cable, can be found here.
"They basically took the binding provisions of the Kirk amendment and significantly reduced it to a 'sense of Senate,' leaving out key details to get Senate Democrats and Republicans to agree to move the bill forward for unanimous consent adoption," said Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. "Senate Democrats were only willing to let this language come in as a sense of the Senate and then defer to the conference committee to negotiate."
The Kirk amendment contained new provisions that would impose sanctions against any insurance company underwriting a sanctionable activity by the government of Iran, extend sanctions to all Iranian financial institutions, declare the Iranian telecom and technology sector a zone of electronic repression, sanction any international company selling technology services to the Iranian regime that could be used to censor the Internet or be used for repressive purposes, and sanction satellite companies that are allowing the Iranian government to jam international broadcasts such as Voice of America.
Three Senate aides told The Cable that the Senate was expected to bring up and pass the bill on Thursday. The Senate goes on another recess next week and a new round of international discussions with Iran over its nuclear program begin on May 23 in Baghdad.
When the Congress does get back to work next month, the Senate bill will be conferenced with the House's Iran Threat Reduction Act. That bill does not contain the extra sanctions found in the Kirk amendment, but House leaders have been introducing separate bills containing the Kirk sanctions as a show of support for those measures.
House Foreign Affairs Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), joined with Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) in April to introduce the Iran Financial Sanctions Improvement Act, which contains many of the sanctions measures that Kirk proposed. Other measures found in the Kirk amendment were included by Reps. Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Robert Dold (R-FL) in a bill they introduced in March called the Iranian Energy Sector and Proliferation Sanctions Act.
"While it's a good thing that the Senate is passing this ahead of Baghdad to send a message of strengthening sanctions, this bill can still be significantly strengthened," said Dubowitz. "My guess is the House will fight to have the sense of Senate language changed into binding language that mirrors the legislation that they have already introduced."