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.
What We're Following See More »
The Signal app is fast becoming the new favorite among those who are obsessed with the security and untraceabilty of their messaging. Just ask the Democratic National Committee. Or Edward Snowden. As Vanity Fair reports, before news ever broke that the DNC's servers had been hacked, word went out among the organization that the word "Trump" should never be used in their emails, lest it attract hackers' attention. Not long after, all Trump-related messages, especially disparaging ones, would need to be encrypted via the Snowden-approved Signal.
The Republican Study Committee may lose several members of the House Freedom Caucus next year, "potentially creating a split between two influential groups of House conservatives." The Freedom Caucus was founded at the inception of the current Congress by members who felt that the conservative RSC had gotten too cozy with leadership, "and its roughly 40 members have long clashed with the RSC over what tactics to use when pushing for conservative legislation." As many as 20 members may not join the RSC for the new Congress next year.
"The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Monday issued emergency authorization for a Zika diagnostics test from Swiss drugmaker Roche, skirting normal approval channels as the regulator moves to fight the disease's spread." Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports that a new study in Nature identifies "about a dozen substances" that could "suppress the pathogen's replication." Some of them are already in clinical trials.
According to 37 newly released audits, "some private Medicare plans overcharged the government for the majority of elderly patients they treated." A number of Medicare Advantage plans overstated "the severity of medical conditions like diabetes and depression." The money has since been paid back, though some plans are appealing the federal audits.
"GOP leaders and House Democrats are already laying the groundwork for a short-term continuing resolution" on the budget this fall "that will set up a vote on a catch-all spending bill right before the holidays." As usual, however, the House Freedom Caucus may throw a wrench in Speaker Paul Ryan's gears. The conservative bloc doesn't appear willing to accept any CR that doesn't fund the government into 2017.