Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) appears to be taking last-ditch steps to stop the Iran deal, including an amendment that would prohibit President Barack Obama from lifting any sanctions until Ian lets four American captives go, and recognizes the State of Israel.
Effectively, if passed, the amendment would kill the Iran deal. However, McConnell’s ploy is just “kabuki” theater that will punish Democrats for supporting the Iran deal without stopping the deal itself.
McConnell had the chance to support similar amendments in the spring. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), for example, proposed an amendment to the controversial Corker bill that would have required Iran to recognize Israel as part of any nuclear deal. That amendment, and others, were dropped in order to secure Democrat votes for the Corker bill.It is unclear that the amendment could survive a Democrat filibuster or a presidential veto, anyway.
McConnell has also declined throughout the process to insist the deal be presented to the Senate as a treaty for a two-thirds vote.
The only way that McConnell’s gambit might pose a serious chance of stopping the Iran deal is if it were setting the stage for the “nuclear option”–i.e. ending the legislative filibuster. That would mean a resolution of disapproval of the Iran deal under the Corker bill would only need 51 votes to pass, rather than the 60 currently needed to close debate and end Democrats’ filibuster.
However, McConnell is unlikely to remove the filibuster for any reason.
A senior official at a Washington, DC-based pro-Israel organization told Breitbart News: “Leadership isn’t going to waste the nuclear option on a resolution that’s doomed to get vetoed anyway. They’ll humiliate Democrats, get devastating material for campaign ads, and turn to other business.”
Sen. Ted Cruz, who has advocated an aggressive approach to stopping the Iran deal, told radio host Hugh Hewitt in July that he opposes ending the filibuster: “I am not aware of any [Republicans] who support ending the legislative filibuster. And the reason is in the long term the legislative filibuster serves conservative purposes.”
McConnell opposes the Iran deal, but likely sees it as a political asset heading into the 2016 elections, in which Republican control of the Senate is thought to be vulnerable.
With Democrats on record supporting a risky foreign policy initiative that barely has the support of 1 in 5 Americans, the Majority Leader may have found a key to maintaining GOP control of the Senate–and his own control of the gavel.
Caroline May contributed to this report.