Senate

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. 

{mosads}Sen. Chris Murphy (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 Kaine (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 Cardin (D-Md.) and Joe Manchin (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 Menendez (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 Kirk (R-Ill.) to extend the Iran Sanctions Act, which expires at the end of the year. 

Sen. Bob Corker (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 McConnell (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. 

Tags Ben Cardin Bob Corker Bob Menendez Chris Murphy Joe Manchin Mark Kirk Mitch McConnell Tim Kaine

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