Senate blocks Cruz push to tie Iran deal to highway bill

Greg Nash

The Senate on Sunday blocked Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzCruz holds back support for Trump with eye on abortion Trump takes victory lap over rivals' remarks What happens when the GOP base abandons the party platform? MORE's (R-Texas) effort to attach the Iran nuclear deal to the long-term highway bill. 

Senators, by a voice vote, upheld the ruling of the Senate chair. 
 
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On Friday Cruz, who is running for president, was blocked from offering an amendment to the highway bill that would have prevented President Obama from lifting some sanctions until Iran supports Israel and releases Americans currently held in the country. 
 
But because McConnell had "filled the tree," a procedural move that blocks further amendments, Cruz's maneuver was ruled "not in order."
 
Republicans suggested ahead of Sunday's vote that while they were opposed to the Iran nuclear deal,  Cruz's effort would effectively throw out the Senate's rulebook if successful. 
 
"If the rule that the junior senator from Texas is arguing for is embraced, we will lose all control of the Senate schedule. There will be chaos," Sen. John CornynJohn CornynOvernight Tech: House GOP launches probe into phone, internet subsidies Senators hope for deal soon on mental health bill GOP leader pushes for special counsel to investigate Clinton emails MORE (R-Texas), the majority whip, said ahead of the vote. 

Cruz, however, rejected that, saying that Republican leadership had previously voted for overruling the chair. 

"I would note that previously many members of this body have voted in favor of overruling the ruling of the chair," the Texas Republican said. "If you oppose filling the tree to silence the amendments of members … you should vote in favor of allowing my amendment to go forward." 
 
Senators originally moved for a roll call vote, but Cruz wasn't able to get a "sufficient second," requiring the support of 10 other senators.
 
Cruz specifically blamed McConnell after the vote for his push not being successful.
 
"The truth is if the majority leader hadn't opposed us, we could have insisted that Iran recognizes Israel's right to exist and released its hostages before any sanctions are lifted," he told reporters.
 
The Senate passed legislation earlier this year that lets them review and vote on a final nuclear deal with Iran. At the time, they rejected a Republican-led push to require that Iran publicly support Israel or release three American currently held in the country.
 
Doing so would have either derailed the legislation, or if successful, killed the talks. 
 
Cruz, however, suggested that if senators support either of those requirements, then they should back his amendment. 
 
"If you are resolved to stand with our friend and ally, the nation of Israel, if you are resolved to stand with American hostages in Iran … then you should vote allow this amendment to be voted on," he said. 
 
But Cornyn suggested that Cruz's amendment undercut the review process of the nuclear deal currently underway in the Senate. 
 
"We have a process that's been set up to review the Iran deal that President Obama and Secretary Kerry negotiated," Cornyn said. "We're going to have a chance to examine it and debate it and review it."
 
This report was updated at 5:00 p.m.

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