Iran Whip List: Dems on the fence

The Hill

Senate Democratic support is softening for a measure empowering Congress to review an Iran nuclear deal amid strong White House opposition.

Supporters had touted the backing of 66 senators, just one short of the two-thirds needed to override a threatened veto from President Obama.

With all Republicans expected to back the bill, supporters need 13 Democrats to override a veto. The bill has 9 Democratic co-sponsors, but in recent days, many expected backers shared concerns the bill could harm ongoing talks over Iran’s nuclear program.

{mosads}The bill drafted by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) requires Obama to submit any agreement to Congress along with verification that Iran is complying with the terms.

Obama would be barred from eliminating any sanctions on Iran for two months to give Congress time to debate the deal. The president would need to send updates on Iran’s compliance every 90 days with any breach leading to a fast-tracked vote to restore sanctions.

But the White House and liberal groups are pushing Democrats to not support the measure. The bill was dealt a blow, when House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) came out in opposition to it on Wednesday.

Obama also called Corker on Wednesday to sell him on the framework agreement reached last week by international negotiators.

Some Democrats are seeking changes to the bill. Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) offered an amendment Wednesday that would strip measures linking sanctions to Iranian support for terrorism.

The Foreign Affairs panel is expected to approve the measure Tuesday, but the level of Democratic support could be crucial. It is unclear when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will bring it up for a floor vote.

Here is a list of how Democratic senators are expected to vote on the Corker-Menendez measure. The Hill will update this list continually. Please send updates to

— Lucy Feickert, Marianna Sotomayor and Alison Thoet contributed.


Yes (8)

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) — Bennet is a co-sponsor of the bill.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) — Blumenthal is a co-sponsor of the bill.

Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) — Donnelly is a co-sponsor of the bill.

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) — Menendez is temporarily stepping down as the top Democrat on the Foreign Affairs Committee, as he faces federal corruption charges. He will remain a member of the panel, but his legal issues could complicate the push for the Iran bill. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), who is taking over his leadership role, has yet to support the measure.

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) — Heitkamp is a co-sponsor.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) — Kaine, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, is a co-sponsor of the bill.

Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) — King is a co-sponsor of the bill but has warned against it being used as a political weapon against the president.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) — Schumer, the next in line to become Senate Democratic leader, co-sponsored the bill before the congressional recess. “I strongly believe Congress should have the right to disapprove any agreement and I support the Corker bill which would allow that to occur,” he said in a statement Monday, reaffirming his support.


Undecided (8)

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) — Cardin, who is taking over the Democratic leadership spot on the Foreign Affairs panel temporarily for Sen. Menendez, has not formally backed the bill. “He is working on language to ensure that the legislation is consistent with the agreement negotiated,” said a representative.

Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) — The Foreign Relations panel member offered an amendment Wednesday that would remove measures tied to Iran’s support for terrorism against the U.S. He told Politico earlier this week his backing “depends on the changes made to the bill, and it depends on the level of engagement on the White House.”

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) — Gillibrand is open to backing Corker-Menendez with changes, according to a report in Politico.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (Vt.)

Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) — Manchin has yet to make a decision, according to a spokesman. “He is planning to get more briefings and speak with his colleagues once he gets back to DC,” said Jonathan Kott in a statement.

Sen. Claire McCaskill (Mo.)

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) — “Sen. Nelson is an original cosponsor of the bill and he’s intending to make some modifications that will be acceptable to the White House,” Ryan Brown, Nelson’s press secretary, said in a statement.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.)


No (11)

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (Wis.) 

Sen. Barbara Boxer (Calif.) — Boxer is pushing her own bill that allows Congress to quickly reinstate any eased sanctions if Iran breaks the nuclear deal. She also sits on the Foreign Relations Committee and, on Wednesday, called on Corker to delay the vote.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (Ohio)

Sen. Tom Carper (Del.) — Carper does not support Corker-Menendez. “He thinks Congress should have a role, but his preferred way is outlined in the bill he sponsored with Sen. Boxer last month,” Carper press secretary Rob Runyan told The Hill. Carper is also a sponsor of Boxer’s bill.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.) — The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence panel told CNN’s “State of the Union” that she would not support the current version of the bill.

Sen. Al Franken (Minn.) — “Sen. Franken believes that Congress has a very important role to play, but he does not support the Corker bill as it stands,” said press secretary Michael Dale-Stein.

Sen. Martin Heinrich (N.M.) — Heinrich is a co-sponsor of Boxer’s Iran bill.

Sen. Chris Murphy (Conn.) — Murphy, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, opposes any Iran votes while negotiations are ongoing.

Sen. Jack Reed (R.I.) — “Congress should allow the hard work of diplomacy to continue and not try to derail the next steps in the negotiation,” said the ranking Democrat on the Armed Services Committee in a statement after the framework deal was announced. “We should not give Iran an excuse to walk away or fracture the international coalition.”

Sen. Brian Schatz (Hawaii) — Schatz is a co-sponsor of Boxer’s alternate Iran bill.

Sen. Tom Udall (N.M.) —  “Sen. Udall will look at any modifications that are proposed or made to the Corker bill, but the timing is a problem regardless. As it stands now, he opposes the bill,” said a representative. Udall sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

This list was last updated on April 14 at 10:46 a.m.

Tags Al Franken Angus King Barbara Boxer Ben Cardin Bill Nelson Bob Corker Charles Schumer Chris Coons Chris Murphy Claire McCaskill Dianne Feinstein Heidi Heitkamp Iran Jack Reed Joe Donnelly Joe Manchin Kirsten Gillibrand Mark Warner Martin Heinrich Michael Bennet Mitch McConnell Patrick Leahy Richard Blumenthal Robert Menendez Sherrod Brown Tammy Baldwin Tim Kaine Tom Carper Tom Udall
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