Schumer Prods Democrats to Support Iran Sanctions

Saturday, 11 Jan 2014 04:47 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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New York Sen. Chuck Schumer is pushing fellow Democratic lawmakers to support sanctions on Iran — putting him at odds with the White House when it it comes to one of President Barack Obama's major agenda items.

Schumer is an original co-sponsor of the sanctions bill, Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., pointed out to The Hill. Kirk,who along with Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez, D-N.J., drafted the bill, said Schumer most likely "has the greatest sway inside his conference."

The bill has been publicly endorsed by 43 Republicans and 16 Democrats, reports The Hill , but William Daroff, the chief lobbyist for the Jewish Federations of North America, tweeted that he "heard from a VERY reliable source" that the bill had the support of 34 Democrats, or more than enough to overcome a threat from the White House to veto the measure.

With the 59 senators officially signing on, as of Friday, the bill is just one vote shy of a filibuster-proof majority. On Thursday, five more Republican lawmakers signed onto the bill as co-sponsors, with only two Republicans, Sens. Rand Paul, Kentucky, and Jeff Flake, Arizona, abstaining.

Schumer, though, is facing opposition from some Democrats, with 10 committee chairmen, including the leaders of the Armed Services, Homeland Security, and Intelligence committees, writing to Reid in December that new sanctions would "play into the hands of those in Iran who are most eager to see the negotiations fail." .

Schumer spokesman Matt House did not deny that Schumer was pushing his fellow Democrats on the bill, saying that "members come up to him to ask his views and of course he gives them."

But as the Senate's third most-powerful Democrat, Schumer led the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in the 2006 and 2008 cycles, and his successor, Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Col., signed on as another co-sponsor for the sanctions bill this past week.

The proposed bill puts new restrictions on Iraq's energy sector if it fails to reach a final deal to bar the country from enriching uranium, or does not meet its commitment under a preliminary deal reached in November.

The Obama administration, though, says the sanctions could interfere with nuclear talks with Iraq, and does not want Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to bring the matter to a vote.

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