The Obama administration lobbied hard at the start of the year to get the Senate to drop the large, bipartisan effort to impose further pending economic sanctions on Iran in the event that they fail to cooperate with the terms of the interim deal (an effort that at one point was rumored to have the potential support of a veto-proof majority of senators). Harry Reid effectively promised to hold off on allowing a vote on the issue, and most of the supportive Democrats evidently succumbed — but the Republicans are still trying to get the measure back on the legislative table. Via Politico:
Still miffed that they didn’t get an Iran vote as part of a 2013 defense bill, the GOP has rolled sanctions language authored by Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) into its alternative to the Democratic veterans benefits’ bill written by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
By calling for the Senate to vote on a substitute written by Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Republicans are hoping to force Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) into holding a vote that he has repeatedly spurned in recent months.
“We’ve been trying for months to get a debate and a vote on the Kirk-Menendez Iran sanctions bill,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters Tuesday. “We’ll be discussing it at length on the floor on why we should go forward with that legislation and why we ought to get a vote on it, because it’s a very time sensitive matter.” …
“This is an issue that should be bipartisan. There shouldn’t be partisanship on this issue, and it is too bad, really too bad, that Republicans are trying to make an issue like this partisan,” Reid said when asked if he’d allow a vote on the GOP alternative with the Iran language.
Er… actually, the thing about the Iranian sanctions bill is that it is bipartisan — really, really bipartisan, or at least it was — and the Democrats turned it into a partisan issue in the first place when they folded to the Obama administration’s weaksauce foreign-policy ministrations. But, as per usual, it’s the GOP that’s out of line for actually trying to follow through — because who really cares that Iran is effectually getting way more sanctions relief than the Obama administration assured us they’d be getting, in exchange for only the most lamely superficial of concessions on their nuclear program, and basically bragging about that fact to their own media? Sanctions, schmanctions.
In light of the slim odds of accomplishing our goal to disarm Iran, it is even more remarkable that the administration gave up as much as it did in the interim talks. Tehran is now reaping the rewards of an interim deal that almost certainly will lead nowhere. The United States, in exchange, gave up critical pressure on Iran and got no abatement in Iran’s program that can’t be easily reversed. In a written statement today, Chief Deputy Whip Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) argued, “As permanent status talks begin today, the Iranian regime immediately reminded us that the Administration is pursuing a fool’s errand, with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei promising that these negotiations ‘will not lead anywhere,’ and that Iran is unwilling to disassemble any nuclear facilities. The Obama administration must avoid making the same mistake it made in November, when it peddled away our leverage in the form of much-needed sanctions relief to Iran’s collapsing economy in exchange for only minor cosmetic concessions on Iran’s nuclear infrastructure.”