An impressively and surprisingly bipartisan consensus has arisen in Congress over the issue of a nuclear deal with Iran. It seem that both Republicans and Democrats are almost equally incensed that President Obama has sought to complete a nuke deal with Iran without first seeking the consent (or even counsel) of Congress. That being the case, both sides of the aisle have been working diligently over the last few weeks in an effort to hammer out a bill that would force the President to hand over any Iran deal to Congress before signing it. The bill is almost done, and both sides seem happy with what it says, which should make its passage relatively easy… unless someone muddies the waters that is.
Which is exactly what some congressmen say Senator Marco Rubio is doing by pushing an Amendment to the bill that would require Iran to recognize Israel’s right to exist!
Senator Rubio believes that any deal with Iran should come with the caveat that Iran must recognize Israel’s right to exist. While the vast majority of Congress likely agrees with Rubio that Iran should do this, many of his colleagues are worried that including the language in the bill will derail any hope of a) the bill passing or b) Iran signing on to a deal.
Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), who called the amendment “a poison pill” has been one of the most passionate detractors of Rubio’s proposal.
Cardin said he doesn’t disagree with the language of Rubio’s amendment, but thinks the results would be “counterproductive” to Rubio’s goal. Speaking to a group of reporters Wednesday afternoon, Cardin said the amendment would do one of three things: cause the bill to fail, prevent the U.S. from negotiating any deal with Iran, or give Iran the upper hand during the negotiations.
“All three are horrible results,” he said. “It’s counterproductive to the intent what the amendment is.”
Noted RINO’s Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) seem to agree with Cardin.
Some Republicans who want to see legislation passed are wary of Rubio’s move on Israel with Graham arguing the amendment could “unravel the coalition” backing the bill.
Graham said he’d vote against Rubio’s Israel amendment on the Senate floor if he felt that was the only way to keep the legislation on track to be signed by the president.
“I don’t think anybody is going to accuse Lindsey Graham of being anti-Israel,” Graham said. “I’ve been working for a year … to put this coalition together. And failure is not an option.”
And Flake, “There were some amendments that in a perfect world I would have loved, but you’ve got to stick with the bill. That’s what you’ll see here — I think, I hope.”
America’s most important Israeli-US lobbying group, AIPAC, has tried to head off any fight over the bill by encouraging Senators to vote for the bill without the Rubio amendment. Rubio himself, while not backing down from his amendment, has offered his colleagues a way out by saying, “If you say that you believe Israel has a right to exist but you’re voting against it because you don’t want to unravel the deal, people will respect it. You can make your argument. But vote. Don’t tell me we can’t have votes on these things. You can argue that we shouldn’t pass them and I’ll argue against you, but don’t tell me we can’t even vote on it.”
It seems odd that with both Rubio and AIPAC giving their blessing for Senators to vote against the Amendment there would still be argument about voting on the amendment… but I think the optics of a vote on the amendment may be a terrifying proposition for some Senators. Even with the cover of AIPAC support some Senators seem fearful that a vote against the amendment could be used against them later. Lindsey Graham may have been alluding to this concern when he tried to cut off any criticism before it could even be considered. “I don’t think anybody is going to accuse Lindsey Graham of being anti-Israel. I don’t think anybody can make that case persuasively,” Graham said.
What do you think? Should Senators vote in favor of the Rubio amendment no matter the cost? Or should they vote against it in an effort to make sure that the bipartisan Iran bill survives?
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