Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) is expected to end debate on a bill providing for congressional review of President Obama’s pending deal with Iran, setting the stage for a vote later this week.
“We’re going to move quickly,” McConnell told reporters Tuesday.
Republican leadership engaged last week in a delicate negotiation with Democrats over which amendments from the hawkish wing of the GOP would receive a vote. After Senator Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) and Senator Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) tried to force votes on amendments that would, respectively, require Iran to close its nuclear facilities and recognize the legitimacy of the state of Israel, Democrats refused to grant unanimous consent to proceed to vote on any amendments.
This put McConnell in a time crunch; the rules of the Senate allow him to call up any amendment after 30 hours of debate, but doing that several times over could consume weeks of legislative time.
“It’s just the coin of the realm in the Senate is floor time and we’ve got [a trade promotion authority bill],” Senator John Thune (R., S.D.), the chairman of the Republican conference, tells National Review. “We’ve got the FISA deadline coming up at the end of the month; we’ve got the highway [bill] deadline coming up at the end of the month; there’s just a lot of stuff that we need to try and transact and, you know, you could stay on this thing indefinitely but I’m not sure what that really gets you.”
#related#The need to pass those bills apparently means that not even the hope of embarrassing Democrats who don’t want votes on amendments pertaining to Israel could induce GOP leadership to keep debating the Iran bill.
And Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) opposes the trade bill, meaning he has an incentive to slow down the process on the Iran amendments.
“I just think it’s a function of time and schedule and trying to get as much done as you can,” Thune says.
— Joel Gehrke is a political reporter for National Review Online.