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GOP’s Vitter slams lack of Iran amendments: ‘That’s a bunch of bull’

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) promised colleagues they would have free rein to vote on amendments under a GOP majority, but some Republican senators say that isn’t happening.

Conservative Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) slammed the floor debate on Iran legislation for blocking him and other Republicans from getting votes on amendments.

{mosads}“Let’s be up front about what’s going on here. It’s not an open amendment process. We’ve been talking about this bill for two weeks, and we’ve had two votes on amendments,” he grumbled on the Senate floor.

Vitter on Wednesday directed his fire at Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), the managers of legislation granting Congress power to review a final nuclear deal with Iran.

Vitter blew his top after Cardin objected to Vitter’s effort to modify his own amendment with unanimous consent.

“All I’m seeking is to be able to modify the language of my own amendment, which is already pending,” he pleaded.

But Cardin said no, explaining that he is in negotiations with Corker on possibly bringing a package of amendments to the floor Thursday and that Vitter’s request could upset the talks.

That didn’t sit well with the Louisiana Republican, who routinely clashed with then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) over amendments in the last Congress.

“My request isn’t going to interfere with anything. That’s a bunch of bull,” he fumed.

“They’re not even talking about amendment votes,” he said. “Sen. Cardin is describing negotiating the language and changing the language of certain amendments, so it is agreeable to everyone, including him. That’s not an open amendment process.

“Those aren’t votes. That’s not voting up and down. That’s not giving everyone their say and everyone their ability to have votes,” he added.

Vitter threatened to object to any package of changes moved by Corker and Cardin if they do not allow their colleagues greater freedom to get votes on the amendments they favor.

“If the end game here is to work out amendments to Sen. Cardin or anyone else’s satisfaction and they get a veto, they can stop their work on that right now because I’m objecting,” he said.

The Iran debate came to a screeching halt last week, when Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) surprised McConnell and the bill’s managers by attempting to force a vote on an amendment requiring Iran to recognize Israel’s right to exist. The authors warned it could derail the measure. 

Cardin on Wednesday blamed Cotton’s gambit for the lockdown on amendments, which Democrats say forced McConnell to file a motion Tuesday to end debate.

Vitter was incredulous.

“This isn’t being blocked by Sen. Cotton. Everybody knows that,” he complained. “Sen. Cotton has made it clear he would happily agree to getting amendment up to be voted.

“This has been a determined, choreographed effort to close the door of an open amendment process and to demand leverage so that every amendment has to be worked out.”

Tags Benjamin Cardin Bob Corker David Vitter Harry Reid Iran Mitch McConnell Tom Cotton

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