WASHINGTON (JTA) — Forty-two Republican senators urged the Democratic-led Senate’s majority leader, Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), to bring to a vote a bill on new Iran sanctions.
“It’s time for the elected representatives of the American people to have a say in the future of Iran’s nuclear weapons program,” said the Feb. 4 letter, first revealed by the Daily Beast and initiated by Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), a lead sponsor of the bill. “It’s time to vote.”
President Obama has said that he would veto any new sanctions, which he says could scuttle talks aimed at keeping Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Democratic support for the new bill, introduced in December, has waned considerably.
A number of top Democrats, including several who originally sponsored the bill, now say they do not want it to advance while talks are underway.
A sizable portion of the Democratic caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives is also now opposed to new sanctions, although that body overwhelmingly approved a similar bill last summer, months before the new talks between Iran and the major powers, including the United States, were launched.
The Senate bill has 59 co-sponsors, eight short of the 67 it would need to override an Obama veto.
Reid has so far resisted bringing the bill to the floor. Proponents of the new sanctions say they would strengthen the West’s hand in Iran negotiations, adding that without new sanctions, the momentum in the talks is moving in Iran’s favor.
According to the Daily Beast, Republicans may attempt to attach the bill to must-pass legislation as an amendment, and could refuse cooperation on other bills in order to force Reid to call a vote.