AIPAC opposes amendments to Iran bill it would ‘ordinarily support’


WASHINGTON (JTA) — The American Israel Public Affairs Committee opposes amendments it would “ordinarily support” to a bill mandating congressional review of an Iran nuclear deal.

An AIPAC official confirmed Friday that the group had earlier in the week sent a letter to all Senate offices urging them to “refrain from supporting provisions that could harm” bipartisan support for the bill.

Noah Pollak, the director of the Emergency Committee for Israel, which backs some of the amendments, posted a copy of the letter on Twitter on Thursday.

“We know that senators will offer amendments on a wide range of initiatives, many of which AIPAC would ordinarily support,” the letter said. “However, our paramount consideration during Senate consideration of this bill is to ensure speedy enactment of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Act by preserving its broad, bipartisan support – so that Congress assures itself a seat at the table in deliberations on any nuclear agreement with Iran.”

The Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and its ranking Democrat, Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., last month hammered out a compromise version of the bill that guaranteed Congress approval of any deal, but stripped out provisions that mandated what the deal would include.

For example, an earlier version of the bill said any deal with Iran swapping sanctions relief for guarantees that Iran not acquire nuclear weapons also include requirements that Iran refrain from backing terrorism; its removal helped attract backing from Democrats like Cardin and led President Barack Obama to drop his threat to veto the bill.

Obama argues that the deal, which must be concluded by June 30, must focus only on nuclear weapons or otherwise lose the backing of the international coalition now sanctioning Iran.

A number of Republican senators now are seeking to attach amendments to the bill, among them one proposed by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who is seeking the GOP presidential nod, that would require Iran to recognize Israel as part of a final deal.

Reports say that Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the majority leader, is considering putting the bill, unadorned by amendments, to a vote as early as next week if he can bypass parliamentary maneuvers by Rubio and Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., that would require voting on amendments.

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