NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Friday, September 11th, 2015

Mitch “Filibuster” McConnell furious after Senate Democrats thwart vote on Iran

The shoe is on the oth­er foot now, and it hurts:

Repub­li­can efforts to stop the nuclear deal with Iran end­ed in fail­ure Thurs­day, thwart­ed by unflinch­ing Demo­c­ra­t­ic sup­port for Pres­i­dent Oba­ma’s land­mark accord and famil­iar GOP infight­ing.

With no clear strat­e­gy remain­ing to pre­vent the inter­na­tion­al­ly backed deal, Repub­li­can lead­ers in Con­gress were left con­duct­ing large­ly sym­bol­ic votes that will reg­is­ter law­mak­ers’ rejec­tion of the deal but do noth­ing to upend it.

In the Sen­ate, Repub­li­cans were met with a Demo­c­ra­t­ic fil­i­buster that blocked a res­o­lu­tion of dis­ap­proval, pre­vent­ing it from being sent to the pres­i­den­t’s desk and depriv­ing the GOP of a hoped-for veto show­down. On a vote of 58 to 42, the Demo­c­ra­t­ic and inde­pen­dent sen­a­tors back­ing the agree­ment stopped Repub­li­cans from reach­ing the 60-vote thresh­old need­ed to advance the dis­ap­proval mea­sure.

Four Democ­rats who opposed the deal joined all 54 Repub­li­cans. Sen­ate Major­i­ty Leader Mitch McConnell (R‑Ky.) vowed to try again.

“No amount of say­ing this is over makes it over,” McConnell said, adding that if Democ­rats were so proud of the Iran deal, they should embrace the out­come. “Break out the cham­pagne. Cel­e­brate. Take cred­it for it. You own it.” He set up a vote next week to “move past this pro­ce­dur­al snag.”

Cry us a riv­er, Sen­a­tor McConnell. Under the arcane, unde­mo­c­ra­t­ic U.S. Sen­ate rules you have so often abused to your advan­tage, it takes a super­ma­jor­i­ty to do almost any­thing of con­se­quence. You knew you need­ed six­ty votes for this res­o­lu­tion of dis­ap­proval, and you thus need­ed the Sen­ate Demo­c­ra­t­ic cau­cus to seri­ous­ly frac­ture to pass a res­o­lu­tion dis­ap­prov­ing of the JCPOA with Iran.

That did­n’t hap­pen, and now you’re mad.

You’re a first-class hyp­ocrite, Sen­a­tor McConnell. When you were Minor­i­ty Leader, you used Sen­ate rules on count­less occa­sions to block Con­gress from tak­ing action to solve a prob­lem. Your use of delay­ing and block­ing tac­tics was exten­sive and unprece­dent­ed. You can hard­ly com­plain that Democ­rats are now avail­ing them­selves of the same pro­ce­dur­al reme­dies you so often used to attain your ends dur­ing the first six years of Barack Oba­ma’s pres­i­den­cy. And yet, you are any­way.

Sen­ate Repub­li­can Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) framed it as one of the most impor­tant for­eign pol­i­cy debates of the past decade and sug­gest­ed Democ­rats would pay a polit­i­cal price.

He called the Demo­c­ra­t­ic obstruc­tion “a tragedy.”

“This is a deal that will far out­last one admin­is­tra­tion. The Pres­i­dent may have the lux­u­ry of vacat­ing office in a few months, but many of our respon­si­bil­i­ties extend beyond that,” he said. “The Amer­i­can peo­ple will remem­ber where we stand today.”

McConnell filed a motion Thurs­day after­noon set­ting up anoth­er vote on the dis­ap­proval mea­sure next week.

Many mem­bers of Con­gress will also be vacat­ing office in a few months. Sen­a­tor McConnell may not even be Major­i­ty Leader after the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tions, if Democ­rats are suc­cess­ful in recap­tur­ing the major­i­ty. (Democ­rats only have ten Sen­ate seats to defend next year, while Repub­li­cans have twen­ty-four.)

Con­trary to what Sen­a­tor McConnell believes, there is noth­ing trag­ic about pre­vent­ing Iran from get­ting a nuclear weapon. The Joint Com­pre­hen­sive Plan of Action is a big win not only for Amer­i­can diplo­ma­cy, but for our nation­al defense and the world com­mu­ni­ty. Will it work? That remains to be seen.

But, as for­mer Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Advis­er Brent Scow­croft has writ­ten, “Iran is ful­ly imple­ment­ing the inter­im agree­ment that has placed strict lim­its on its nuclear pro­gram since Jan­u­ary 2014 while the final agree­ment was being nego­ti­at­ed. If Iran demon­strates the same resolve under the JCPOA, the world will be a much safer place. And if it does not, we will know in time to react appro­pri­ate­ly.”

Democ­rats in Con­gress who vot­ed to uphold the JCPOA have done a great ser­vice for their coun­try. It is Mitch McConnell and his obstruc­tion­ist Repub­li­can col­leagues who are the wrong side of his­to­ry, and deserve to pay a price.

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