Proponents of new sanctions against Iran in the US Senate have for now abandoned their search for a highly symbolic 60th vote which would make their legislation filibuster-proof, according to a report.
Support for the sanctions legislation, introduced by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ.) and Mark Kirk (R- Ill.) in December, had been fast gaining momentum but the number of cosponsors on the bill has been stuck at 59 for more than three weeks.
The White House has launched a full-court press to prevent a vote in the Senate, warning that passing new sanctions now would undercut the fragile nuclear talks. President Barack Obama has also repeatedly threatened to veto the bill if it landed on his desk.
As a result, at least four cosponsors – Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WVa.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) – have stated they are in favor of waiting, the Hill reports.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who controls the floor calendar, has signaled an unwillingness to bring the legislation to a vote.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC.), a chief advocate of new Iran sanctions, admitted that efforts to convince more members to get on board had run into problems.
“We’re working on that, but Sen. Reid has aligned himself with Obama on this,” the Hill quoted Graham as saying. “The Obama administration has won the day when it comes to the Senate Democrats’ willingness to send a clear message to the Iranians.”
“I think the momentum is clearly moving away from a vote on the Senate floor,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) who backs the interim nuclear deal reached between Iran and six world powers late last year.
“I’m not as worried as I was about that just a month ago, and I think the president – both publicly and privately – has been very clear about how strongly he feels about this.”