Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech to Congress continues to backfire, as key Democratic senators have withdrawn their support for a Senate bill that would have reviewed any nuclear agreement with Iran.
If Hill Republicans thought Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Tuesday address would build broad support for having Congress review any nuclear deal with Iran, they thought wrong.
By the end of the day Tuesday, key Democratic senators had pulled their support for just such a bill after Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced he was fast-tracking the legislation, bringing it to the Senate floor for debate as soon as next week, short-circuiting committee deliberations that Democrats say are necessary to perfect it.
Sen. Bob Menendez announced on the Senate floor last night that he was pulling his support for the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act. Menendez said, “There is no emergency, this deal – if there is one – won’t be concluded until almost summer. Let’s do this the right way. I know I cannot object to the Rule 14 process under the rules, but I say to my colleagues, if this is the process then I will have no choice but to use my voice and vote against any motion to proceed to the bill.”
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) who was a co-sponsor of the bill said, “As a co-sponsor of this important bipartisan bill, I believe the effort by the Republican leadership to force the bill to the floor prior to full committee consideration is contrary to the important interests at stake. Premature action also disrespects the ongoing work to build a broad coalition of colleagues in support of this bill. Congress should weigh in on any Iranian nuclear deal that impacts the statutory sanctions we’ve enacted. But we need to demonstrate that our review will be thoughtful and deliberate rather than rushed and partisan.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tried to use Netanyahu’s speech as a means to doublecross two important Democratic supporters of the bill. McConnell tried to turn a piece of legislation that would have called for a Senate review of any agreement into a partisan attack on the president, so Democrats are withdrawing their support for the bill.
Speaker of the House John Boehner and Majority Leader McConnell thought that Netanyahu’s speech would be a powerful political weapon. The reality is that the speech has unified Democrats, boosted President Obama’s approval rating, and turned out to be politically worthless.
The Netanyahu speech was a flop, as Senate Democrats remain firmly in control of the congressional agenda.