U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) joined the chorus of lawmakers alarmed over Iran in an Oct. 4 speech on the Senate floor. He pushed for economic sanctions and more forceful diplomacy, yet he appears uncomfortable with any talk of a potential military strike.
"The key is to use every power, every asset that we have and leave every option on the table, including military. But I think that, too often, this administration has skipped some of the first important steps before they get to a military discussion," said Casey several days afterward.
Former Republican Sen. Rick Santorum, whom Casey defeated handily last year, campaigned heavily on the Iran issue and the threat posed by Islamic extremism, and seemed less hesitant to advocate force.
Casey — who sits on the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and may be trying to raise his profile via the Iran issue — has co-sponsored several bills concerning Iran.
One is the Iran Counter-Proliferation Act of 2007 that would, if enacted, financially punish subsidiaries of foreign multinational firms that invest in Iran's energy sector. He's also co-sponsored the Iran Sanctions Enabling Act, which would require the U.S. government to publish a list of companies that invest more than $20 million in Iran's energy sector.
The bill also would authorize state and local pension funds to divest from any company on the list. Casey added that he plans to draft legislation that would make it more difficult for Iran to import refined gasoline.
Here in Pennsylvania, State Rep. Josh Shapiro (D-District 153) is pushing a bill to mandate state pension divestment from companies that do any business with the five countries labeled by the U.S. State Department as sponsors of terror.
Casey expressed doubt as to how much support such a measure would receive at the federal level: "This is a country that imports 40 percent of its gasoline. They are already feeling the economic squeeze. I think we've got to intensify that economic pressure."