Harry Reid and Senate Dem leadership aides have been telling reporters that there are no plans for a vote on a new bill to impose sanctions on Iran — a vote the White House fears could derail diplomacy and make war more likely.
Yet it may actually be even worse than this for proponents of the bill. Even Senators who support the measure are no longer pushing for any vote, and have no plans to do so for the foreseeable future, a Democratic Senator who favors the bill tells me.
“At the moment, there’s no rush to put the bill on the floor,” says this Senator, who asked for anonymity to be candid about the real state of play on the measure. “I’m not aware of any deadline in anyone’s head.”
It’s unclear whether any of the bill’s Democratic supporters are even privately pushing for a vote on it at this point, in the wake of the recent announcement that the six month deal curbing Iran’s nukes is set to move forward.
One Senator who favors the bill — Richard Blumenthal — has publicly confirmed he’s having second thoughts in the wake of that announcement.
And there is clearly more movement behind the scenes. The Senator who spoke to me today allowed it could become “harder” for the pro-bill forces to demand a vote down the line, in the weeks and months ahead, if negotiations are proceeding with Iran.
The picture painted by this Senator is one in which the push for a vote on the bill is clearly on hold. In recent days those who favor the bill have boasted that they are gaining ground, and it’s true that some 58 Senators have signed on to the bill, putting it within range of passing and even potentially of overriding a presidential veto.
But editorial boards and commentators have harshly condemned the push for a vote. Many Senate Democrats have continued to remain silent, which could well be a sign of an unwillingness to sign on to the bill. A couple Dem senators have come out against it in the last couple of days, joining 10 Dem committee chairs who have already done the same. Meanwhile, Obama is set to meet with Senate Democrats tonight, and may again make the case against the bill.
And in the middle of all of this, Harry Reid has not shown any signs of allowing a vote on the measure. While pressure could still intensify on him to do so, particularly if circumstances change, right now even Democrats who support the bill are holding off from pushing him. And if the talks produce progress, it could make it less likely over time that this bill gets a vote.
So those who oppose this vote should keep at it.