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. 

ADVERTISEMENT
Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphySenate Dem: Graham-Cassidy is an 'intellectual and moral garbage truck fire' Dems call for action against Cassidy-Graham ObamaCare repeal Murphy fires back at Trump on filibuster 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 KaineTimothy Michael KaineWeek ahead: Crunch time for defense bill’s cyber reforms | Equifax under scrutiny Insurer Anthem to cover bare ObamaCare counties in Virginia Senate votes down Paul's bid to revoke war authorizations 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 CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinTrump officials brief lawmakers on North Korea Blackwater founder calls for military contractors in Afghanistan Tillerson moves to eliminate special envoy posts at State Dept.: report MORE (D-Md.) and Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinGOP sees fresh opening with Dems’ single payer embrace Trump steps up courtship of Dems The Hill's 12:30 Report 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. Robert MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezOvernight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Poll finds little support for Menendez reelection Judge tells Menendez lawyer to 'shut up' 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 KirkStale, misguided, divisive: minimum wage can't win elections Immigration critics find their champion in Trump Trump's nominee to lead USAID has the right philosophy on international aid MORE (R-Ill.) to extend the Iran Sanctions Act, which expires at the end of the year. 

Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerOvernight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Senate passes 0B defense bill Corker pressed as reelection challenges mount 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 McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate passes 0B defense bill Overnight Health Care: New GOP ObamaCare repeal bill gains momentum Overnight Finance: CBO to release limited analysis of ObamaCare repeal bill | DOJ investigates Equifax stock sales | House weighs tougher rules for banks dealing with North Korea 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.