Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said this week that he is against passing a new round of sanctions on Iran while talks on a final nuclear deal are ongoing.
A battle has been ongoing in the Senate over whether to move forward with an Iran sanctions bill championed by Sens. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Mark Kirk (R-IL). The bill attracted dozens of cosponsors — including from a handful of Democrats — when it was introduced last month. But momentum slowed in the face of opposition from the White House, senior Senate Democrats, various security experts and grassroots activists who argue the measure would derail negotiations with Iran and could lead to war.
Only two GOP senators — including Paul — stood on the sidelines as the rest of their Republican colleagues voiced support for the bill. But the Kentucky Republican — in little noticed comments after President Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday — broke his silence, bucking his caucus in opposing the bill.
“I think while they’re negotiating, and if we can see that they’re negotiating in good faith, I don’t think it’s a good idea to pass sanctions while we’re in the midst of negotiations,” Paul said on CNN. “I think the bottom line is we should give negotiations a chance. My hope is that sanctions will avoid war. We’ve been involved in two long wars in the Middle East. And I think it would be best if we can do anything possible to try to avoid another war now.”
Some news outlets recently promoted claims from anonymous Senate Republican aides that there were enough votes to override President Obama’s promised veto if the sanctions bill passed. But Democratic co-sponsors pulling back and Paul’s announcement — which also complicates the usual unanimous consensus on Iran related issues in the Senate and within the GOP — all but assures that the bill won’t even come to a vote.
“[Obama] said last night he would veto any [new sanctions],” Sen. Jim Inhofe said in an interview with the National Journal referring to the president’s speech on Tuesday. “The question is, is there support to override a veto on that? I say, ‘No.’” (HT: Oliver Knox)