Durbin: Iran amendment could kill energy bill
Democrats are raising the alarm over an amendment from Sen. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonEx-Rep. Abby Finkenauer running for Senate in Iowa Poll: Trump leads 2024 GOP primary trailed by Pence, DeSantis Republicans raise concerns about Olympians using digital yuan during Beijing Games MORE (R-Ark.) that would block the government from using federal funds to buy Iran's heavy water, which can be used in nuclear reactors.
"The administration made it clear they will veto the bill over this, and we know that it's politically charged," Durbin told reporters. 
Asked whether Democrats would block the legislation, Durbin added that they were "in a strong position going to the floor."
Democrats huddled Wednesday to discuss how to proceed on the energy and water appropriations bill. Republicans will need six Democrats to get it over procedural hurdles. 
"I mean the idea is hit the number — hit the budget number — avoid the poison pills. The Cotton amendment as written is a poison pill," Durbin said, adding that Cotton's proposal is "veto bait." 
Cotton's amendment currently isn't scheduled to get a vote. Durbin, however, warned that because it's germane — or on topic — Cotton will be able to bring it up if senators invoke cloture. 
It's not the first time a maneuver by Cotton has threatened to undermine an otherwise bipartisan piece of legislation. Cotton and Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioDemocrats join GOP in pressuring Biden over China, virus origins Senators introduce bipartisan bill to expand foreign aid partnerships GOP lawmakers request Cuba meeting with Biden MORE (R-Fla.), a former presidential candidate, tried to force a vote last year on requiring Iran to recognize Israel’s right to exist as part of any nuclear deal.
Sen. John CornynJohn CornynSenate votes to take up infrastructure deal Biden officials pledge to confront cybersecurity challenges head-on Eight Republicans join Democrats to confirm head of DOJ environmental division MORE (R-Texas), the Senate's No. 2 Republican, said he was optimistic the standoff could be resolved, adding that the current scuffle represents a "first test" for the GOP's goal of passing the 12 individual appropriations bills. 
"I'm happy to support his amendment, but I just don't know whether — I don't want to sink the appropriations process," he told reporters. 

Senate Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidWhite House seeks to shield Biden from GOP attacks on crime issue Lobbying world Warner backing 'small carve-out' on filibuster for voting rights MORE (D-Nev.) said Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell: 'It never occurred to me' convincing Americans to get vaccinated would be difficult The 17 Republicans who voted to advance the Senate infrastructure bill Senate votes to take up infrastructure deal MORE (R-Ky.) "has been caught off guard by his fellow Republicans." 

"Senator Cotton’s amendment is the definition of a poison pill and will trigger a presidential veto. For the appropriations process to continue productively, Senator McConnell needs to find a way to stop being blindsided by his fellow Republicans," he said in a statement.