In an apparent U-turn, the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has given up on pushing for a vote on an anti-Iran bill after one of the authors of the bill changed course on Thursday
On Thursday, 42 Republican senators asked Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) in a letter to schedule an immediate vote on a sanctions bill against Iran which was introduced by Senators Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey) and Mark Kirk (R-Illinois) in mid December.
However, as the bill is unlikely to ever get a vote on the Senate floor due to opposition from key members of the Senate Democratic leadership, Menendez, who is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, took to the Senate floor on Thursday and criticized Republicans for their push for a vote on the bill.
Menendez, who is under criminal investigation for his ties to two fugitive Ecuadorian bankers and his donors, claimed that he wanted the sanctions bill to be “a bipartisan national security issue – not a partisan political issue.”
AIPAC, which is the most powerful pro-Israel lobby group in the US, also sided with Menendez and came out against Republicans’ push for an immediate vote on the bill.
In an emailed statement obtained by The Hill, the pro-Israel lobby group said that it agreed with the New Jersey Democrat “that there should not be a vote at this time on the measure.”
AIPAC’s apparent U-turn follows the group’s intense efforts on Capitol Hill to convince US senators to co-sponsor the new sanctions bill against Iran. AIPAC even launched an attack on a pro-Israel Jewish Democrat in the House of Representatives, Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, for not supporting the new anti-Iran legislation.
Menendez and AIPAC’s change of course, however, came after the bill lost steam when several Democratic cosponsors of the legislation, including senators Joe Manchin (West Virginia), Kirsten Gillibrand (New York), Ben Cardin (Maryland), Richard Blumenthal (Connecticut), and Chris Coons (Delaware), said they did not favor an immediate vote on the bill.
US President Barack Obama has also repeatedly said that he would veto the bill if it passed Congress and landed on his desk.
Initially, Senate hawks vowed to override Obama’s veto, saying they would secure a veto-proof majority of 67 senators for the bill.
However, they even failed to secure 60 votes in order to make their bill filibuster-proof as, according to congress.gov, the bill has only 58 co-sponsors as of February 7, 2014.