WASHINGTON (Washington Jewish Week via JTA) — The U.S. Senate blocked another amendment trying to scuttle the Iran nuclear deal, this one linking the lifting of sanctions with Iran’s public acknowledgement of Israel’s right to exist and the release of American prisoners.
On Thursday, senators voted 53-45 in favor of the amendment, but fell short of the 60 votes needed to advance the measure. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., introduced the amendment as part of a final push to stop the nuclear agreement. Republicans had tried two earlier measures to kill the deal.
Jewish lawmakers Sens. Ben Cardin, D-Md., and Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., along with Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J. — all opponents of the nuclear agreement — were among the Democrats to vote against the amendment. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who also opposes the Iran deal, was the only Democrat to vote for it.
After the vote, the Obama administration declared the congressional fight over the Iran nuclear deal was finished and looked forward to implementing the agreement. The White House tweeted the following:
— The Iran Deal (@TheIranDeal) September 17, 2015
Cardin said before the vote that even if Iran recognizes Israel’s right to exist, “I must tell you that I would have no trust in their statement or confidence in their statement,” The Hill reported.
Menendez said he voted no because he did not “want to give any idea that we would support this agreement” just because four Americans would be released and Iran would recognize Israel.
McConnell countered that his amendment was the least the Senate could do if they could not pass a resolution of disapproval.
The Obama administration has long argued that the nuclear agreement has a narrow scope and outstanding issues, including human rights abuses and threats made against the United States and Israel, were not part of the negotiations between world powers and Iran that concluded in July.
Under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, Thursday was the final day for Congress to pass a resolution of disapproval on the Iran deal, though some Republicans – notably Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., the lone Jewish Republican in Congress – argue that the clock will not start until the side agreements between the International Atomic Energy Agency and Iran are made available for review.