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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The silent Dems

15 Democratic Senators are co-sponsoring the Kirk-Menendez Iran Sanctions Act, which would automatically strengthen sanctions against Iran if the Iranians don't behave. 10 Democratic Senators who chair committees have come out against the bill. And while I reported early Monday morning that the bill could ultimately win a veto-proof 77 votes, Lefty blogger Greg Sargent argues that we really don't know how any of the remaining 30 Democratic Senators will vote. He finds their silence on the issue odd.
The basic storyline in recent days has been that the pro-sanctions-bill side is gaining in numbers, while the anti-sanctions-bill side hasn’t — even though the White House has been lobbying Dems very aggressively to back off on this bill, on the grounds that it could imperil the chances for a historic long-term breakthrough with Iran. As Josh Rogin puts it, “the White House’s warnings have had little effect.”
We’re very close now to the 60 votes it needs to pass. The Dem leadership has no plans to bring it to the floor, but there are other procedural ways proponents could try to force a vote. And if the numbers in favor of the bill continue to mount, it could increase pressure on Harry Reid to move it forward. Yes, the president could veto it if it did pass. But we’re actually not all that far away from a veto-proof majority. And in any case, having such a bill pass and get vetoed by the president is presumably not what most Democrats want to see happen.
So it’s a bit puzzling that we’ve heard so little from Senate Dems who might be inclined to support the White House in holding the line against the sanctions bill right now.
Curiously, Sargent ignores one factor that might have a lot to do with the silence: A fear of antagonizing the White House, on the one hand, balanced against a fear of losing a reelection bid on the other hand. How many of those 30 Democrats are up for reelection this year? Anyone care to check?

It's also curious to see Sargent seemingly adopting Peter Beinart's view of Elizabeth Warren (D-Ma - pictured above) as being "the party’s hottest star, ... an anti-Wall Street crusader with no distinct foreign policy views whatsoever." Really? If this can be believed, her positions on Israel and Iran aren't as horrendous as a lot of other Democrats. In any event, I'm sure she has views and if the rumors of her running in 2016 turn out to be true, we will find out a lot more about them (I'm not expressing an opinion one way or the other on that). You might recall that in 2008, a certain Senator from Illinois was described as not being very interested in foreign policy.

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