Democrats block amendment linking Iran deal to Israel, American prisoners

Sen. Ben Cardin
Sen. Ben Cardin

An amendment that would have linked lifting of sanctions on Iran with the release of American prisoners and public acknowledgement by the Islamic regime of Israel’s right to exist was blocked on Thursday.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) introduced the amendment as part of a final push to stop the Iran nuclear deal. Senators voted 53-45 on the amendment, falling short of the 60 votes needed to move forward.

Jewish lawmakers Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), along with Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), who opposed the nuclear agreement, joined Democrats in voting no. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who also opposed the Iran deal, was the only Democrat to vote for McConnell’s amendment.

Cardin, as reported by The Hill, said before the vote, that even if Iran recognizes Israel’s right to exist, “I must tell you that I would have no trust in their statement or confidence in their statement.”

Menendez said he voted no because he did not “want to give any idea that we would support this agreement” just because four Americans would be released and Iran would recognize Israel.

McConnell countered that his amendment was the least the Senate could do if they could not pass a resolution of disapproval.

The Obama administration has long argued that the nuclear agreement has a narrow scope and outstanding issues, including human rights abuses and threats made to the United States and Israel, were not part of the negotiations between world powers and Iran that concluded in July.

Per the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, Thursday is the final day Congress can pass a resolution of disapproval on the Iran deal, though some Republicans – notably Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.), the lone Jewish Republican in Congress – argue that the clock will not start until the side agreements between the International Atomic Energy Agency and Iran are made available for review.

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