Dems block Iran bill for second time
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Senate Democrats on Tuesday blocked a resolution disapproving the Iran nuclear deal for a second time, standing firm behind the signature foreign policy initiative of President Obama’s second term.

The Senate voted 56-42 for the Iran resolution, short of the 60 votes needed to move forward.

Sens. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulMcConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time Legislatures boost security after insurrection, FBI warnings Former Missouri senator says backing Hawley was 'worst mistake of my life' MORE (R-Ky.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham pushes Schumer for vote to dismiss impeachment article Impeachment trial tests Trump's grip on Senate GOP An attack on America that's divided Congress — and a nation MORE (R-S.C.), both candidates for president, didn't vote. Meanwhile, in a repeat of last week, Democratic Sens. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinSenate Democrats leery of nixing filibuster Georgia keeps Senate agenda in limbo Trump signs bill authorizing memorial to fallen journalists MORE (Md.), Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinSenate majority offers Biden new avenues on Trump environmental rollbacks OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senate majority offers Biden new avenues on Trump environmental rollbacks | Democrats eye action on range of climate bills | Biden pushing to cancel Keystone XL pipeline as soon as he takes office: reports Daily Beast reporter discusses prospects for K stimulus checks MORE (W.Va.), Robert MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezYear-end deal creates American Latino, women's history museums Lawmakers call for including creation of Latino, women's history museums in year-end spending deal Trump offered 0 million to terrorism victims to save Sudan-Israel deal  MORE (N.J.) and Charles SchumerChuck SchumerCowboys for Trump founder arrested following Capitol riot Graham pushes Schumer for vote to dismiss impeachment article Biden and the new Congress must protect Americans from utility shutoffs MORE (N.Y.) bucked Obama to oppose the Iran agreement.

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Republicans have until Thursday to pass legislation rejecting the nuclear deal, and while they have pledged to keep the focus on Iran up through the deadline, their next steps are unclear.

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynHarris to resign from Senate seat on Monday Cruz, Cornyn to attend Biden inauguration McConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time MORE (R-Texas), the Senate's No. 2 Republican, said that additional votes on Iran this week are "still being discussed."

"Whether there are other votes that we'll take, that hasn't been decided yet to my knowledge," he told reporters.

Meanwhile, Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellWhat would MLK say about Trump and the Republican Party? Biden's minimum wage push faces uphill battle with GOP GOP senators wrestle with purging Trump from party MORE (R-Ky.) threatened to force a vote on an amendment that would require Iran to support Israel and release Americans currently held in the country before President Obama could lift sanctions. 

Regardless of additional votes, the nuclear deal is all but guaranteed to survive Congress and go into effect next month. Under the bargain, economic sanctions will be lifted on Iran in return for internationally enforced limits on its nuclear program.

McConnell (R-Ky.) slammed Democrats as willing to “win ugly” by saving the president from having to veto a resolution rejecting the deal.

The Senate could still try to take up a resolution of approval, which wouldn’t have the votes to pass. But, Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerGOP lawmaker patience runs thin with Trump tactics Former GOP senator: Republicans cannot let Trump's 'reckless' post-election claims stand Cornyn: Relationships with Trump like 'women who get married and think they're going to change their spouse' MORE (R-Tenn.), the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, cast doubt on the maneuver, saying, “I don’t think that’s in the cards.”

Democrats slammed McConnell on Tuesday for forcing a repeat of procedural vote. They said the Republican leader is wasting the Senate’s time when lawmakers face a myriad of other deadlines, including funding the government by the end of the month.

Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinOfficials brace for second Trump impeachment trial Sunday shows - Capital locked down ahead of Biden's inauguration Durbin says he won't whip votes for Trump's second impeachment trial MORE (D-Ill.), the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat, joked that the identical votes were a form of “debate prep” for the Senate’s four Republican presidential candidates.  

“I don’t know why we’re going through a replay of this, and there’s a suggestion that he may do another vote in another few days,” he added. “Is this part of a debate prep for some of the Republican senators running for president, that they come to the floor and make their speeches … and get to cast a vote before the CNN debate this week?”

Republicans defended holding a a second vote on the resolution of disapproval.

Asked why senators were voting again, Cornyn pointed to “accountability” on the Iran deal, which he said is “most serious national security vote” senators have taken since authorizing the Iraq War.

“This is very important,” he added. “The idea that they can they just brush this under the rug and move on from here, I think they underestimate the consequences of this both from a national security perspective and a political perspective.”

Republicans had hoped that two Democrats would flip their positions on blocking the Iran resolution after facing pressure back in their home states over the weekend. Sen. Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsSenate Intelligence Committee leaders warn of Chinese threats to national security New federal cybersecurity lead says 'rumor control' site will remain up through January Biden soars as leader of the free world MORE (R-Ind.) made a plea from the Senate floor ahead of the vote for his Democratic colleagues to allow a resolution to move forward.