GOP Effort to Block Iran Deal Fails Again

     WASHINGTON (CN) – A second Republican attempt to block the Iran nuclear deal failed on the Senate floor Tuesday as calls for Republican leaders to abandon their efforts to condemn the deal grew louder.
     The effort to end debate over legislation to send a resolution of disapproval on the deal to President Barack Obama’s desk failed by a vote of 56-42. A similar measure fell last week.
     “This is a waste of our time tonight,” Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut, said on the floor before the vote. “And this is just about politics.”
     The resolution would condemn the deal, which forces Iran to give up some of its capabilities to enrich uranium in exchange for a reduction in economic sanctions. Its failure was all but guaranteed over the August recess when enough Democrats came out in favor of the deal to sustain a presidential veto of the resolution and eventually to even stop the resolution from reaching the floor.
     But Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, and others in the GOP leadership have insisted on the importance of allowing senators to make their opinions on the deal known to their constituents with a formal yes-or-no vote.
     “If only Democrat Senators would stop blocking the American people from even having a final vote on one of the most consequential foreign policy issues of our age,” McConnell said in a statement before the vote.
     He also threatened to tack on an amendment to the resolution if cloture was not invoked Tuesday that would require Obama to force Iran to formally recognize Israel’s right to exist and to release American prisoners held in the country.
     “My strong preference is for Democrats to simply allow an up-or-down vote on the President’s Iran deal,” McConnell said in another statement. “But if they’re determined to make that impossible, then at the very least we should be able to provide some protection to Israel and long-overdue relief to Americans who’ve languished in Iranian custody for years.”
     Democrats implored the majority leader to continue past the resolution of disapproval and onto legislation to avoid the government shutdown.
     “It’s one more thing to dramatize the fact that they lost on this,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, told reporters about McConnell’s proposed amendment. “And now they’re trying to come back with something else and something else and something else. You know, a cloture vote is definitive. It means you don’t have the votes to pass the legislation and I think, candidly, that some good grace is called for just to admit that they lost this battle.”
     On the floor, Democrats put the focus on the upcoming shutdown fight and cast the Republican effort to end debate on the resolution of disapproval as a stalling tactic to avoid confronting such issues.
     “I wonder if the Republican leader has bothered to look at a calendar,” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, said on the floor before the cloture vote.
     Reid also criticized his Republican colleagues who have threatened a shutdown if the Senate does not revoke funding to Planned Parenthood, another issue Reid said could take up time on the floor before the end of the fiscal year.
     But McConnell was clear he is not yet ready to abandon the resolution of disapproval on the Iran nuclear deal, and indicated more votes on the measure could be coming.
     “Either way, this debate will continue,” McConnell said on the floor before the vote. “This is a debate with a very long shelf life.”

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