Push for new Iran missile sanctions divides Democrats

An early push in the Senate to pass new sanctions targeting Iran's ballistic missile program is threatening to divide Democrats. 

While lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are still hashing out the specifics, the issue is already splitting Democrats into two camps: Lawmakers who believe recent sanctions from President Obama go far enough and those who think Congress needs to further crackdown on Iran. 

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Sen. Chris MurphyChris MurphyReid backs House Puerto Rico bill Meet the man who sparked the Democratic revolt on guns The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (D-Conn.) defended the administration's recent actions on Tuesday, calling the sanctions against 11 individuals tied to Iran's missile program “sufficient.”

“I think we should hold over Iran's head the prospect of additional sanctions should they continue to test, but I'm supportive of the steps the administration took,” he said, dismissing the need for Congress to take additional action. 

But Sen. Tim KaineTim KaineHispanics on Clinton's VP shortlist could help her win votes The Hill's 12:30 Report Clinton’s 9 most likely VP picks MORE (D-Va.), who had pushed for the administration to crackdown on Iran, said he's “not sure there's a need for more [sanctions.]”

Sens. Ben CardinBen CardinMcConnell tees up House Puerto Rico bill GOP senators: Brexit vote a wake-up call Dems take over floor to protest Senate inaction on gun control MORE (D-Md.) and Joe ManchinJoe ManchinOvernight Finance: Trump threatens NAFTA withdrawal | Senate poised for crucial Puerto Rico vote | Ryan calls for UK trade deal | Senate Dems block Zika funding deal Overnight Energy: Volkswagen reaches .7B settlement over emissions Senators rally for coal miner pension fix MORE (D-W.Va.), who both opposed the nuclear deal, suggested that new sanctions against the missile program could get Democratic support. 

“It's something I'm very interested in. That was one of the reasons I could not support the original deal,” Manchin told The Hill. “On the Democratic side, I think it will be very well received.”

Sen. Bob MenendezRobert MenendezOvernight Finance: Trump threatens NAFTA withdrawal | Senate poised for crucial Puerto Rico vote | Ryan calls for UK trade deal | Senate Dems block Zika funding deal Menendez rails against Puerto Rico bill for 4 hours on floor Overnight Cybersecurity: Senate narrowly rejects expanding FBI surveillance powers MORE (D-N.J.) also said Tuesday that he's working on new sanctions legislation unrelated to Iran’s nuclear program. He introduced legislation last year with Sen. Mark KirkMark KirkSenate panel approves 0M for international climate fund Senator calls for pause in accepting Syrian refugees after Istanbul attack Overnight Healthcare: Blame game over Zika funding MORE (R-Ill.) to extend the Iran Sanctions Act, which expires at the end of the year. 

Sen. Bob CorkerBob CorkerSenate honors Tennessee coach Pat Summitt GOP senator: Something 'very, very good' can come from Brexit vote GOP senators: Brexit vote a wake-up call MORE (R-Tenn.), the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said Tuesday that he’s working on a package of Iran-related bills that would go further than the administration’s. 

“We're still hashing out the framework of what it would look like right now,” he said.

Corker also acknowledged the proposal will have to win support from Democrats to pass the Senate.

The renewed push in the Senate comes as House lawmakers voted — for a second time — on Tuesday evening to block the administration from lifting sanctions on Iranian entities unless it certifies they aren’t tied with terrorism or ballistic missile development. 

Asked about the potential for the Senate to take up legislation, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellBusiness groups ramp up pressure to fill Ex-Im board Senate Dems: No August break without Zika deal Never Trump plots its last stand MORE (R-Ky.) told reporters last month that Iran would likely be an "ongoing issue" and that they would be getting "advice" from the Foreign Relations Committee on potential next steps. 

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