McConnell to Reid: Stop ‘muzzling’ majority on Iran sanctions

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Wednesday that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) should allow the Senate to vote on an Iran sanctions bill because it has the support of at least 59 senators.

“A strong bipartisan majority has sought to pass legislation here in the Senate that puts teeth into the negotiations,” McConnell said on the Senate floor. “There is no excuse for muzzling the Congress on an issue of this importance to our own national security.”

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Republicans have included a measure that would increase sanctions against Iran if the administration’s negotiations fail in an amendment to the omnibus veterans bill being considered by the Senate.

Reid said he’s “disappointed” that the first Republican amendment offered was on a topic unrelated to veterans.

“Sure let’s look at relevant amendments, but the first amendment Republicans demand is an unrelated issue on Iran,” Reid said. “Republicans say they want to help veterans — strange way of showing it.”

But Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) — the author of the amendment — said Iran sanctions were included in his GOP alternative because senators have been blocked from bringing the measure up any other way.

Fifty-nine senators have sponsored a bill from Sens. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) that would increase U.S. sanctions against Iran if the Iranian government doesn’t honor commitments made in an interim deal.

The administration has asked Democrats to wait to vote on the measure until after the six-month negotiations conclude, otherwise the vote could disrupt progress made in limiting Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon.

“That’s why Republican senators — and hopefully some Democrats senators as well — will continue to press the Majority Leader to allow a vote on this legislation before these negotiations end,” McConnell said. “It doesn’t disrupt ongoing negotiations. It simply provides an incentive for Iran to keep its commitment under the interim agreement.”

The administration is working with the Iranian government to try to reduce uranium enrichment. To get Iran to the table, the administration reduced some of the U.S. sanctions against Iran.