Senate Dems Roll Out Bill to ‘Strengthen’ Iran Deal

The Hill

October 1, 2015

A handful of Senate Democrats are pushing legislation they say would help strengthen the Iran nuclear deal, after Congress failed to block the agreement earlier this month.

The legislation, spearheaded by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), includes additional assistance for Israel, requires the administration to submit a regional strategy and allows for an expedited process for Congress to consider sanctions for Iran's terrorism activities.

Cardin's bill is backed by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.). Both opposed the Iran nuclear deal. 

It is also supported by Sens. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) — all of whom supported President Obama's deal.

The senators stressed their bill wouldn't undermine the agreement, compared to Republican-backed proposals that would effectively tie Obama's hands.

"This bill essentially looks forward to strengthen and improve the agreement, without in any way contradicting or undermining it," Blumenthal said.

Asked about the administration's reaction to his legislation, Cardin said that while they have had "positive conversations," he "cannot speak for the White House."

The Democratic senators could have an uphill climb in moving the bill forward. While Cardin said he's spoken to his Republican colleagues, none have signed on to the legislation. GOP support is crucial to get the votes needed to pass the bill.

Asked about when the legislation could come up before the Foreign Relations Committee, Cardin they were working to build broad support.

He added that he and Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who chairs the committee, understand they need to "have some discussions about this bill, but there's no immediacy."