“If certain members of Congress want the United States to take military action, they should be up front with the American public and say so,” Bernadette Meehan, National Security Council spokeswoman, said in a statement. “Otherwise, it’s not clear why any member of Congress would support a bill that possibly closes the door on diplomacy and makes it more likely that the United States will have to choose between military options or allowing Iran’s nuclear program to proceed.”
As predicted, however, the momentum is only continuing to build behind the cautionary measure, and Friday saw the new count go up to a definitive 59 — and multiple reports are suggesting that an actual vote could see support ranging well past the 67 votes the bill would need to overcome the White House’s veto.
The bipartisan proposal introduced by Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Illinois, now has 59 senators who have formally committed to support it, a senior Senate aide tells CNN.
But the aide said that the current informal count is even higher – at 77 yes votes – and that more are expected to come on board once the undecided are forced to vote.
The bill could come to the Senate floor for consideration during the week of President Obama’s State of the Union address on January 28 or the following week, the aide said.
The WFB corroborates that count, and adds that even Sen. Rand Paul’s team is not ruling out his support, either. That would leave Sen. Jeff Flake as the lone Senate Republican yet to take a stance on the measure so vehemently opposed by the White House as a disruption to their peace-in-our-time foreign-policy designs:
A senior Paul staffer told the Washington Free Beacon that Paul is keeping “an open mind on the bill.”
“Sen. Paul has not said he wouldn’t support it in a vote,” the Paul aide told the Free Beacon. “He has supported previous sanctions, and believes they have helped bring Iran to the [negotiating] table.” …
A senior Senate aide additionally confirmed to the Free Beacon a CNN report that a veto-proof threshold of 77 senators now support the sanctions measure.
Senate sources said there are signs that at least 34 Democrats will vote in favor of the bill when it finally comes up for a vote.
Update: Today’s press briefing got real, via Fox’s Ed Henry: “You’re basically accusing Democrats like Bob Menendez of wanting to go to war. Is that really a fair characterization?”