In a vote of 308-114, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3183, a bill chiefly aimed at funding energy and environmental projects, but which also included a little discussed provision which would sanction companies which sell gasoline to Iran.
The sanctions amount to a ban on the Energy Department from awarding contracts to these companies for the delivery of oil to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, largely meaningless since the reserve is virtually full.
But though the impact of the move is expected to be very limited, the message seems very clear, coming the same day that the US was meeting with the Iranian government ostensibly to improve ties and resolve the long-standing disputes between them.
The talks ended more or less conciliatory, with a promise to meet again later in the month, but the ease and comparative lack of debate with which the House pushed through sanctions speaks volumes about the long road which will still have to be traversed if these two nations are to have better relations.