Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is bucking Barack Obama’s plans to table sanctions on Iran in the wake of the Geneva deal reached late last year. He is pushing fellow Democratic Senators to support sanctions on Iran.
Schumer has been rumored to be the leading candidate to replace Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) when he retires. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL), who wrote the new sanction bill with Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ), said, “He’s an original cosponsor. I would say he probably has the greatest sway inside his conference.”
To date, 59 senators support the new sanctions bill, including 43 Republicans and 16 Democrats. William Daroff, chief lobbyist for the Jewish Federations of North America, tweeted that a “VERY reliable source” had informed him that as many as 34 Democrats will support the bill if it is voted on, which would make the bill veto-proof from the White House.
Yet according to The Hill, “Ten committee chairmen wrote to Reid in December arguing that ‘at this time… new sanctions would play into the hands of those in Iran who are most eager to see the negotiations fail,’ including the leaders of the Armed Services, Homeland Security, and Intelligence Panels.” Those senators would be Carl Levin, (D-MI), Thomas Carper (D-DE), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).
Schumer’s spokesman Matt House said of rumors that Schumer is pressuring fellow Democratic senators, “Members come up to him to ask his views, and of course he gives them.” Schumer is respected among his Democratic colleagues for overseeing a net gain of fourteen seats in the Senate for the party when he was head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in 2006 and 2008. Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), who followed him in the job, signed on as a cosponsor to the new sanctions bill.
The new sanctions bill would impose sanctions if Iran reneges on the commitments it made in Geneva or if it fails to agree to ultimately eschew enriching uranium. The White House is stonewalling and has told Reid not to hold a vote.