Iran sanctions bill gains traction in Senate

An Iran sanctions bill opposed by the White House continues to gain traction in Congress, with 59 senators officially signing on as of Friday morning — just one shy of a filibuster-proof majority.

Another five lawmakers, all Republicans, signed on as co-sponsors on Thursday. Only two Republicans have so far abstained: Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), both of whom are libertarian-leaning members critical of U.S. involvement in the Middle East. 

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Sixteen Democrats have also signed on to the legislation, which was introduced by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) shortly before the holiday recess. More are believed to be ready to vote for the bill if it ever comes up for a vote.

The drip-drip of co-sponsorships is putting pressure on Senate Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to buck the White House and schedule a vote on the bill. The bill would slap new sanctions on Iran's energy sector if it reneges on a preliminary deal reached in November or fails to agree to a final deal that bars it from enriching uranium, which the Obama administration says would imperial nuclear talks.

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