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In brief: House votes to sanction Iran oil exports further

Washington – The House voted 400-20 Wednesday to hit Iran with the toughest sanctions yet over its nuclear program, in a forceful rejection of arguments that Congress should refrain from new penalties pending international negotiations with the new Iranian government.

The lawmakers adopted a bill that would basically block Iran from selling any oil abroad, after a year in which its exports have already been cut in half by international sanctions.

Lawmakers said they wanted to send Iran a strong signal before the negotiations and didn’t believe statements by Iran’s president-elect, Hassan Rouhani, that he wants a better relationship with the West.

Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a co-sponsor of the measure, said that “today the House took a critical step toward crippling this regime to prevent a nuclear Iran and dire security consequences.”

It remains unclear whether the Senate will follow suit.

The Obama administration has been sending signals that it wants the Democratic-controlled Senate to hold off until after it is clear if Rouhani’s team will be flexible or if it will continue the tactics of stonewalling and delay that Iranian leaders have used in recent negotiating rounds.

Donor’s wedding check returned, governor says

Richmond, Va. – Gov. Bob McDonnell said Wednesday that his daughter Cailin has returned the $15,000 check she received for her wedding from Jonnie Williams, a major McDonnell campaign donor and head of a nutritional supplements manufacturer who gave the first family thousands of dollars in gifts.

Now the subject of federal and state investigations into his relationship with Williams, McDonnell announced on his hourlong monthly show on Washington’s WTOP radio that he is working with his private legal team to return all gifts still in his family’s possession to Williams.

McDonnell’s gifts from Williams came to light through weeks of news reports, not his own economic interest filings. His gifts included a $6,500 Rolex watch inscribed to the “71st governor of Virginia,” the check for 28-year-old daughter Cailin, and a $10,000 engagement check for daughter Jeanine, 32, before her May wedding.

Both wedding gifts have already been returned, McDonnell said.


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