GOP Senators continue holding Dems feet to the fire on Iran deal
The resolution of disapproval on the Iran nuclear deal may be dead in the Senate, but Republicans aren't finished trying to shame Democrats for preventing an up or down vote on the deal from coming to the floor.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell plans to attach some amendments to the resolution, including language that would force Iran to recognize Israel and free the 4 hostages being held by the Iranian regime.
The manuever isn't likely to allow Republicans to bring the resolution to the floor. But that's not the goal of including the amendments. Instead, Republicans want to embarrass Senate Democrats when they are forced to vote against popular issues and then nail them at the polls.
The Kentucky Republican wants political consequences for the 42 Senate Democrats who support the nuclear agreement and are rejecting McConnell’s attempts to pass a resolution disapproving of the Iran deal. And that retribution could come as soon as Thursday, when McConnell (R-Ky.) plans to force Democrats to take what the GOP views as a tough vote.
“Democrats seem to think they can end the discussion by blocking an up-or-down vote, then turn around and pretend they care deeply about Israel and human rights,” McConnell said on Tuesday evening. “Well if they vote again to deny the American people a final vote, they’ll have a chance to test the theory.”
McConnell’s chief rival, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), called the new twist by the GOP leader a “charade.”
“The Republicans have lost. They lost this measure. And we should move on to something else,” Reid said.
Presidential candidates and GOP Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida were among the senators pushing the proposals to force Iran to recognize Israel as a state and secure the release of four Americans detained in Iran earlier this year as part of the congressional review law. Those efforts collapsed in a procedural car wreck this spring, as Democrats successfully maneuvered away from having to vote on whether the Iran deal should include references to hostages and Israel.
Democrats and the White House say that those two items are important but outside the scope of the Iran negotiations, which focused mostly on a complex nuclear monitoring scheme that would be implemented in return for relaxing some sanctions levied on Iran by global powers. But McConnell says there’s no reason not to link the nuclear deal with Israel and human rights and he's ready to hold it over Democrats' heads as Cruz, Rubio and the rest of the GOP field prepare for Wednesday night's debate.
It's not much, but it's all Republicans have at the moment. To my mind, the Democrats have already wounded themselves by refusing to allow an up or down vote on the most important foreign policy agreement in a generation. I would think that would play better with the electorate than the obvious attempts to force Iran to scuttle the deal over hostages or Israeli recognition.
But McConnell and the Senate Republicans are desperate to pin this unpopular deal to Democratic Senators. Given Iran's history, they are likely to do something soon that is going to make those Senators who support the deal run for cover.