Where the rubber meets the road
This Senate Iran bill may shape up to be one of those very important votes that really clarifies how certain people lean when it comes to war and peace, particularly in the middle east. This whip list from The Hill is something to bookmark and keep your eye on:
The bill drafted by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) requires Obama to submit any agreement to Congress along with verification that Iran is complying with the terms.Democrats will excuse their vote for this by saying it's just a "process" vote to allow the Senate a say in such an important vote. But they know they are actually interfering in delicate negotiations by doing this and they know that if they get involved to the extent the Corker bill anticipates, the deal will likely fall apart because the Senate will vote it down. They know that by voting with the Republicans they will be helping them get what they want which is more war.
Obama would be barred from eliminating any sanctions on Iran for two months to give Congress time to debate the deal. The president would need to send updates on Iran's compliance every 90 days with any breach leading to a fast-tracked vote to restore sanctions.
But The White House and liberal groups are pushing Democrats to not support the measure. The bill was dealt a blow when House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) came out in opposition on Wednesday.
Obama also called Corker on Wednesday to sell him on the framework agreement reached last week by international negotiators.
Some Democrats are seeking changes to the bill. Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) offered an amendment Wednesday that would strip measures linking sanctions to Iranian support for terrorism.
The Foreign Affairs panel is expected to approve the measure next Tuesday, but the level of Democratic support could be crucial. It is unclear when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will bring it up for a floor vote.
Here is a list of how Democratic senators are expected to vote on the Corker-Menendez measure. The Hill will update this list continually.
Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) — Bennet is a co-sponsor of the bill.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) — Blumenthal is a co-sponsor of the bill.
Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) — Donnelly is a co-sponsor of the bill.
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) — Menendez is temporarily stepping down as the top Democrat on the Foreign Affairs Committee as he faces federal corruption charges. He will remain a member of the panel, but his legal issues could complicate the push for the Iran bill. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), who is taking over his leadership role, has yet to support the measure.
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) — Heitkamp is a co-sponsor.
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) — Kaine, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, is a co-sponsor of the bill.
Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) — King is a co-sponsor of the bill but has warned against it being used as a political weapon against the president.
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) — Schumer, the next in line to become Senate Democratic leader, co-sponsored the bill before the congressional recess. "I strongly believe Congress should have the right to disapprove any agreement and I support the Corker bill which would allow that to occur," he said in a statement Monday, reaffirming his support.
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) — Cardin, who is taking over the Democratic leadership spot on the Foreign Affairs panel temporarily for Sen. Menendez, has not formally backed the bill. "He is working on language to ensure that the legislation is consistent with the agreement negotiated," said a spokesperson.
Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) — The Senate Foreign Relations member offered an amendment Wednesday that would remove measures tied to Iran's support for terrorism against the U.S. He told Politico earlier this week that his backing "depends on the changes made to the bill, and it depends on the level of engagement on the White House."
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) — Gillibrand is open to backing Corker-Menendez with changes, according to a report in Politico.
Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) — Manchin has yet to make a decision, according to a spokesman. “He is planning to get more briefings and speak with his colleagues once he gets back to DC,” said Jonathan Kott in a statement.
Sen. Claire McCaskill (Mo.) — Aides told Politico McCaskill is open to voting for the bill if there are changes.
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) — "Sen. Nelson is an original cosponsor of the bill and he’s intending to make some modifications that will be acceptable to the White House," Ryan Brown, Nelson's press secretary, said in a statement.
Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.)
Sen. Barbara Boxer (Calif.) — Boxer is pushing her own bill that allows Congress to quickly reinstate any eased sanctions if Iran breaks the nuclear deal. She also sits on the Foreign Relations Committee and on Wednesday called on Corker to delay the vote.
Sen. Sherrod Brown (Ohio)
Sen. Tom Carper (Del.) — Carper does not support Corker-Menendez. "He thinks Congress should have a role, but this preferred way is outlined in the bill he sponsored with Sen. Boxer last month," Carper press secretary Rob Runyan told The Hill. Carper is also a sponsor of Boxer's bill.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.) — The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence panel told CNN's "State of the Union" that she would not support the current version of the bill.
Sen. Al Franken (Minn.) — "Sen. Franken believes that Congress has a very important role to play, but he does not support the Corker bill as it stands," said press secretary Michael Dale-Stein.
Sen. Martin Heinrich (N.M.) — Heinrich is a co-sponsor of Boxer’s Iran bill.
Sen. Chris Murphy (Conn.) — Murphy, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, opposes any Iran votes while negotiations are ongoing.
Sen. Jack Reed (R.I.) — “Congress should allow the hard work of diplomacy to continue and not try to derail the next steps in the negotiation," said the ranking Democrat on the Armed Services Committee in a statement after the framework deal was announced. "We should not give Iran an excuse to walk away or fracture the international coalition."
Sen. Brian Schatz (Hawaii) — Schatz is a co-sponsor of Sen. Boxer’s alternate Iran bill.
Sen. Tom Udall (N.M.) — "Sen. Udall will look at any modifications that are proposed or made to the Corker bill, but the timing is a problem regardless. As it stands now, he opposes the bill," said a spokesperson. Udall sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
They all have their local issues to deal with. We get that. But this is war and peace. It's about nuclear proliferation. It's arguably worse than voting for the Iraq war since the consequences are so grave. A vote against a peace agreement in the middle east is unforgivable. Let's hope the liberals in the congress can save these warmongering Democrats from themselves.