Wall Street Journal: The push to force a Senate vote on a new round of sanctions on Iran may have eased in recent weeks, but it’s still serving as an obstacle as senators conduct their daily business.
The Wall Street Journal
By Michael R. Crittenden
The push to force a Senate vote on a new round of sanctions on Iran may have eased in recent weeks, but it’s still serving as an obstacle as senators conduct their daily business.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) and other Republican senators this week have used Senate consideration of a measure dealing with veteran’s benefits to refocus attention on Iran and whether the U.S. should impose new sanctions on Tehran. Lawmakers should be allowed to hold a vote on new sanctions legislation,” Mr. McConnell said Wednesday during a speech from the Senate floor.
“There’s no excuse for muzzling the Congress on an issue of this importance to our national security, to the security of Israel … and to international stability more broadly,” he said.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.), who for months has held off attempts to force a vote on the Iran issue, again criticized Republicans for trying to bring up Iran on ancillary legislation.
“They offered an amendment that has nothing to do with this bill, the veterans bill. It’s partisanship at its best, it’s obstruction at its best,” Mr. Reid said during a floor speech Wednesday morning.
Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have for months been weighing whether to impose new sanctions on Tehran as part of the broader effort to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions. The White House has for some time counseled against additional sanctions amid multilateral talks between Iranian officials and Western powers, which in recent months resulted in an interim agreement and further negotiations.
The bipartisan push to hold a vote on sanctions legislation was relaxed earlier this month when a key supporter – Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Robert Menendez (D., N.J.) – said partisan attacks should not be used to force a vote on the measure. His comments were echoed at the time by The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which has a major role in influencing sanctions legislation.
“We agree with the chairman that stopping the Iranian nuclear program should rest on bipartisan support and that there should not be a vote at this time on the measure,” AIPAC said in a statement at the time.
Republicans have bristled at Mr. Reid’s control of the amendment process, seeking roll call votes on many GOP measures and at times objecting to how many votes would be needed for them to pass. They’ve frequently turned to the Iran sanctions issue to draw attention to their complaints, complicating efforts to pass measures such as the annual defense authorization act.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent who is the lead sponsor of the benefits measure, called the attempt to bring up sanctions “silly partisan politics.”
“We can have honest differences on how to address veterans issues, but it is disrespectful to the millions of veterans in this country to introduce an extraneous provision on Iran sanctions,” Mr. Sanders said.