The National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) today slammed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for blocking a vote on new Iran sanctions. NJDC President and CEO David A. Harris said:
The actions today by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to block a vote on new Iran sanctions represents the Republican Party’s latest failure to take sanctioning Iran seriously. First it was Republican House members voting repeatedly against amendments that would have closed loopholes and strengthened sanctions. Now, McConnell is saying that the Senate GOP needs more time to study the legislation because he and members of his party want a clear declaration over the use of force.
The President and his Administration have repeatedly been crystal clear that military force is on the table to stop Iran. Perhaps McConnell missed that our Ambassador to Israel broadly said the military option is ‘ready’ and ‘fully available’ during a recent interview.
With all due respect, I must ask Senator McConnell—what kind of message does blocking a vote on strengthening sanctions send, particularly with negotiations rapidly approaching? We know how gridlocked the Senate is; why push this critical legislation back?
U.S. Senate Republicans blocked new economic sanctions on Iran’s oil sector on Thursday, saying they needed more time to study revisions, a surprise move that drew anger from Senate Democrats who had expected unanimous approval ahead of Iran talks on May 23.
‘I feel I’ve been jerked around,’ Democratic Leader Harry Reid said on the Senate floor after the Republican objection.
But Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said his staff did not receive a draft of the bill until late on Wednesday night, and needed more time to make sure it was as strong as possible.
‘There is no reason in the world why we can’t resolve whatever differences we have and move forward,’ McConnell said. ‘We certainly don’t want to take a step backward, and there are members on my side of the aisle who are concerned that the way the measure is currently crafted could actually be a step in the wrong direction,’ McConnell said….
Democrats wanted to pass the proposed penalties ahead of talks between world powers and Iran next week, and had support from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a powerful pro-Israel lobby group.
But Republicans sought a stronger statement in the bill that the use of U.S. military force was an option.