Robert Menendez Seeks Distance From GOP on Iran Sanctions

But the Foreign Relations chairman remains deeply skeptical of Iran.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) (L) and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) (R) leave after a briefing on a Securities and Exchange Commission proposed rule October 30, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
National Journal
Jordain Carney
Feb. 6, 2014, 1 p.m.

Sen. Robert Men­en­dez fired back at a Re­pub­lic­an let­ter that pressed for a vote on his Ir­an sanc­tions le­gis­la­tion.

Un­der Men­en­dez’s bill, ad­di­tion­al sanc­tions would be levied against Ir­an if it walks away from the in­ter­im agree­ment over its nuc­le­ar pro­gram, or talks over a long-term deal. Ir­a­ni­an of­fi­cials have said such le­gis­la­tion, or any sanc­tions le­gis­la­tion, would kill dip­lo­mat­ic pro­gress.

“I have long thought of this as a bi­par­tis­an na­tion­al se­cur­ity is­sue — not a par­tis­an polit­ic­al is­sue,” the New Jer­sey Demo­crat said. “And — at the end of the day — a na­tion­al se­cur­ity is­sue that we must ap­proach in a spir­it of bi­par­tis­an­ship and unity, which has been the spir­it for which we have worked to­geth­er on this mat­ter. And I hope that we will not find ourselves in a par­tis­an pro­cess try­ing to force a vote on a na­tion­al se­cur­ity mat­ter be­fore its ap­pro­pri­ate time.”

Forty-two Re­pub­lic­ans sent a let­ter to Sen. Harry Re­id on Tues­day call­ing for a vote dur­ing the cur­rent work peri­od on Men­en­dez’s pro­pos­al. That would re­quire a vote on the bill next week, with the Sen­ate ex­pec­ted to start its next state-work peri­od on Feb. 17.

In the let­ter, up­loaded by The Daily Beast‘s Josh Ro­gin, Re­pub­lic­ans say it is the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion that is turn­ing a his­tor­ic­ally bi­par­tis­an is­sue in­to a par­tis­an one, and hits at Re­id for tak­ing “un­pre­ced­en­ted steps to take away the rights of the minor­ity in the Sen­ate.”

Re­pub­lic­ans have con­tin­ued to speak out against Re­id’s de­cision to “go nuc­le­ar” last year, and the two sides have fre­quently got­ten bogged down in fights over amend­ments to le­gis­la­tion.

The sanc­tions bill has 58 co­spon­sors, 15 of whom are Demo­crats and 43 are Re­pub­lic­an. Of the 15 Demo­crat­ic cosponors, two signed on after Dec. 19 — the day the bill was in­tro­duced.

Un­der the in­ter­im agree­ment reached by six coun­tries with Ir­an in Novem­ber, the coun­try curbs its nuc­le­ar pro­gram in ex­change for lim­ited sanc­tions re­lief.

Men­en­dez said he re­mains deeply con­cerned about Ir­an, not­ing that of­fi­cials “say one thing be­hind closed doors in Geneva, and say an­oth­er thing pub­lic­ally.”

And he called the one-year sanc­tions delay in­cluded in his pro­pos­al “sig­ni­fic­ant and gen­er­ous giv­en Ir­an’s his­tory of treach­ery and de­ceit.”

But wheth­er or not sanc­tions le­gis­la­tion will come up for a vote in the Sen­ate rests with one per­son — Re­id, who has fre­quently avoided be­ing pinned down on if, and when, he would bring such a pro­pos­al to the floor.

The Nevada Demo­crat said last month that he would “wait and see” about le­gis­la­tion.

MOST READ
What We're Following See More »
PHOTO OP
Clinton Shows Up on Stage to Close Obama’s Speech
1 hours ago
THE LATEST

Just after President Obama finished his address to the DNC, Hillary Clinton walked out on stage to join him, so the better could share a few embraces, wave to the crowd—and let the cameras capture all the unity for posterity.

‘DON’T BOO. VOTE.’
Obama: Country Is Stronger Than Eight Years Ago
1 hours ago
THE LATEST

In a speech that began a bit like a State of the Union address, President Obama said the "country is stronger and more prosperous than it was" when he took office eight years ago. He then talked of battling Hillary Clinton for the nomination in 2008, and discovering her "unbelievable work ethic," before saying that no one—"not me, not Bill"—has ever been more qualified to be president. When his first mention of Donald Trump drew boos, he quickly admonished the crowd: "Don't boo. Vote." He then added that Trump is "not really a plans guy. Not really a facts guy, either."

‘HILLARY CLINTON HAS A PASSION’
Kaine Sticks Mostly to the Autobiography
2 hours ago
THE LATEST

Tim Kaine introduced himself to the nation tonight, devoting roughly the first half of his speech to his own story (peppered with a little of his fluent Spanish) before pivoting to Hillary Clinton—and her opponent. "Hillary Clinton has a passion for children and families," he said. "Donald Trump has a passion, too: himself." His most personal line came after noting that his son Nat just deployed with his Marine battalion. "I trust Hillary Clinton with our son's life," he said.

TRUMP IS A ‘CON’
Bloomberg: Neither Party Has a Monopoly on Good Ideas
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

Michael Bloomberg said he wasn't appearing to endorse any party or agenda. He was merely there to support Hillary Clinton. "I don't believe that either party has a monopoly on good ideas or strong leadership," he said, before enumerating how he disagreed with both the GOP and his audience in Philadelphia. "Too many Republicans wrongly blame immigrants for our problems, and they stand in the way of action on climate change and gun violence," he said. "Meanwhile, many Democrats wrongly blame the private sector for our problems, and they stand in the way of action on education reform and deficit reduction." Calling Donald Trump a "dangerous demagogue," he said, "I'm a New Yorker, and a know a con when I see one."

TRUMP’S ‘CYNICISM IS UNBOUNDED’
Biden: Obama ‘One of the Finest Presidents’
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

Vice President Biden tonight called President Obama "one of the finest presidents we have ever had" before launching into a passionate defense of Hillary Clinton. "Everybody knows she's smart. Everybody knows she's tough. But I know what she's passionate about," he said. "There's only one person in this race who will help you. ... It's not just who she is; it's her life story." But he paused to train some fire on her opponent "That's not Donald Trump's story," he said. "His cynicism is unbounded. ... No major party nominee in the history of this country has ever known less."

×