Florida federations urge Iran sanctions

Four Jewish federations in South Florida urged Sen. Bill Nelson to sign on to legislation opposed by the Obama administration that would enhance Iran sanctions.

The letter to Nelson (D-Fla.) was sent last week amid a renewed post-holiday push by some pro-Israel groups to pass the legislation initiated by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.).

The Obama administration says the new sanctions will inhibit talks underway between the major powers and Iran aimed at keeping Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. The letter sent by the federations of greater Miami, South Palm Beach County, Broward County and Palm Beach County praises the president’s overall strategy while pressing for the sanctions.

The law faces significant opposition: Ten committee chairs in the Democratic-led Senate have pushed back against new legislation in a letter to Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the body’s majority leader.

Among them are four Jewish senators with strong pro-Israel records: Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the chairwoman of the Intelligence Committee; Carl Levin (D-Mich.), the chairman of the Armed Services Committee; Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), the chairwoman of the Environment Committee; and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the chairman of the Energy Committee.

Thirty-three senators have signed on to the bill. Top pro-Israel groups, led by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, are seeking additional sponsors. On Jan. 2, the American Jewish Committee on one of its Twitter accounts called on most of the senators who have not signed on to join.

A number of federations in states with senators who have not signed on are making similar overtures. — jta