Cruz: McConnell should bring sanctions to floor

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Sights and sounds from Houston debate Ted Cruz says he hopes to 'run again' for White House Conservatives offer stark warning to Trump, GOP on background checks MORE (R-Texas) on Tuesday said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) should bring an Iran sanctions bill to the Senate floor immediately.

“Absolutely,” Cruz said in response to a question about whether he’d urge McConnell to do so.

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The Texas Republican criticized Democrats for holding up a sanctions bill, which President Obama has threatened to veto.

“I think it has been heartbreaking to see how few Democrats, even to this day, are willing to stand up to the Obama administration when it comes to the threat of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons capability,” he said. 

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) separately on Tuesday sent a letter to the White House signed by nine other Democrats that said they would give the president until March 24 to reach a framework deal with Iran on that country’s nuclear program.

Without a framework in place by that date, Menendez and the other Democrats said they would back sanctions legislation on the Senate floor.

Without the support of some Democrats, Republicans do not have the votes to move the legislation on their own.

Cruz said Menendez’s efforts to win over Democrats and the White House have failed.

“Sen. Menendez has been a lonely Democrat standing and speaking his mind, but these negotiations have continued now for nearly two years with no discernible progress,” he said.

Menendez and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) are on the cusp of introducing a bill to impose new sanctions on Iran if international negotiators fail to reach an agreement to roll back Iran's nuclear program by June 30.

Cruz filed his own bill last year, which would immediately reimpose and strengthen sanctions that were lifted during the negotiations. It would also set new conditions for lifting those sanctions again.