Senate Foreign Relations Chair Robert Menendez attempted to sabotage the talks going on now between the United States and Iran by pushing for new sanctions. The sabotage effort is not going over well as 10 Democratic Committee chairs have now told Menendez to back off. Menendez’s motivation seems to be pandering to right wing interest groups and an attempt to be relevant.
In a remarkable rebuke to Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), 10 other Senate committee chairs are circulating a joint letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, urging him to reject an effort by Menendez to tighten sanctions on Iran and warning that his bill could disrupt ongoing nuclear negotiations.
The senators write in their letter that “at this time, as negotiations are ongoing, we believe that new sanctions would play into the hands of those in Iran who are most eager to see the negotiations fail.”
The letter lays out in no uncertain terms how reckless Menendez’s behavior is and the likelihood that his actions could destroy any prospect for peace with Iran. Other Democrats have also signed on to Menendez’s efforts most notable Senator Chuck Schumer.
The White House noted that this sanctions bill would be vetoed and that its only achievement would be to damage the talks. If the new sanction regime Menendez is proposing is accepted there would be no prospect for any deal.
“This bill does not provide the president with the flexibility necessary to negotiate an agreement. The fact is, passing new sanctions now would split the international community, embolden Iranian hard-liners, and likely derail any prospect of a diplomatic resolution. Members of Congress pressing for this bill are effectively choosing to close the door on diplomacy, making it far more likely that we’ll be left only with a military option.”
It is worth noting Senator Menendez does not have any particular expertise in foreign affairs, his background is in New Jersey, or more specifically Hudson County politics. While in the Senate his most notable achievement is helping to raise money for the DSCC.
Also a concern is whether Menendez is representing the people of his state well or at all. Promoting war with Iran might not be as popular as Senator Menendez thinks it is.
Photo from US Senate under public domain.