Regardless, both Democrats who support the administration and those who support Menendez told The Daily Beast that the White House’s tactic of going after their own party’s legislators is over-the-top and ineffective, alienating allies, creating bad will on Capitol Hill, and wasting political capital the administration may need on this issue down the road.
“The White House has clearly overreached in calling Democratic supporters of the Menendez-Kirk bill warmongers,” one senior Democratic Congressional aide said. “These are Democrats, some who have been in public service for decades and have long supported increasing sanctions against Iran. It’s just not credible and not helpful for them to use such extreme language when it’s clearly not true.”
Even those who support the administration’s overall position on Iran sanctions say the White House’s tactics are backfiring. Trita Parsi, the executive director of the National Islamic American Council, which opposes new sanctions legislation, said that the White House doesn’t appreciate that to oppose the Menendez-Kirk bill is a risky decision for Democrats because it puts them at odds with the pro-Israel lobby and many of their constituents.
“The approach of the White House towards Congress, particularly towards allies, is not one that tends to build political capital and as long as they continue to use that approach, there is going to continue to be unnecessary resistance,” said Parsi.