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Liberal senators Markey and Murray join AIPAC in fighting White House opening to Iran

on 13 Comments
Sen. Patty Murray

Sen. Patty Murray

This is tragic. “Democrats, AIPAC jeopardize Iran talks,” reports Foreign Policy. Much of the opposition to lifting sanctions comes from liberals: Ed Markey of Massachusetts, and Patty Murray of Washington (fifth most liberal Senator, according to National Journal rankings in 2012). But then Murray is the head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Some of FP’s report, by Yochi Dreazen and John Hudson:

The White House has already signaled a potential openness to that kind of deal, but a wide array of powerful Democrats — including the top members of both the Senate and House foreign affairs committees — strongly oppose lifting any of the existing sanctions on Iran unless Tehran offers concessions that go far beyond anything Zarif has talked about in Geneva. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington, has also promised to do everything in its power to keep the punitive measures in place….

“If the president were to ask for a lifting of existing sanctions it would be extremely difficult in the House and Senate to support that,” Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, told The Cable. “I’m willing to listen but I think that asking Congress to weaken and diminish current sanctions is not hospitable on Capitol Hill.”

“I’d say no,” said Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) when asked if he’d accept a presidential plea to lift sanctions….

Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey said the U.S. “should  not relax the sanctions one inch while Iran’s intentions are still unknown.”…Still, lawmakers like [New Jersey Democrat] Menendez, Murray and [Illinois Republican] Kirk show no signs of softening their positions.  Their demands to maintain the current measures reflect, in part, the success of a concerted lobbying campaign by AIPAC. The pro-Israel group has sat out some recent potential fights over large-scale U.S. weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in order to focus all of its energy on Iran. During its annual conference in March, AIPAC sent hundreds of volunteers to Capitol Hill to personally lobby lawmakers from their home states to support tough measures on Iran. It has also drafted templates of letters lawmakers could send the White House under their own names calling for continued sanctions on Iran.

Iran is one of the few issues that bind Democrats and Republicans, so AIPAC is in some ways preaching to the choir. [Representative Steve] Israel said he hadn’t been lobbied by the group, but he said it had no reason to.

The piece states that House supporters of the president’s opening to Iran have been quiet because they’re working on the gov’t shutdown deal. More than a quarter of House members signed a bipartisan letter urging talks with Iran last July.

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13 Responses

  1. hophmi
    October 16, 2013, 11:26 am

    No one opposes talking. Let them talk, and if there is concrete gain, I’m sure there will be a softening of this position. We’ve been down the talk road before. The Iranians are coming to table because they’re looking for relief from the sanctions.

    • just
      October 16, 2013, 2:06 pm

      Sanctions should already have been imposed upon Israel. Israel has not even admitted that they have an arsenal of all of the WMDs ever even imagined.

      Instead, we give them billions to enrich their covetous & illegal arsenal.

    • RoHa
      October 16, 2013, 8:37 pm

      The sanctions should never have been imposed in the first place. There was no justification for them.

  2. pabelmont
    October 16, 2013, 11:26 am

    The sensitivity to Palestinian suffering has not yet reached the halls of Congress (which has little sensitivity for people generally, of course). It will be the LAST bastion to fall. Get SNL and the Daily Show to “out” the Congress on its continuing support for the unsupportable (and insufferable) Israel.

    The way to the hearts-and-minds of Congress is through laughter among the voters.

  3. Woody Tanaka
    Woody Tanaka
    October 16, 2013, 11:49 am

    Well, it used to be said that politics stops at the border: that party difference are put aside for the US’s best interests in international affairs. Now it seems that politics stops at the AIPAC offices.

    • Bandolero
      October 16, 2013, 10:51 pm

      While I do think that the US congress is more or less fully owned by powerful lobby groups – in the first place AIPAC I don’t think that the US congress has the power to actually spoil a US-Iranian deal if the US president wants it.

      I think the international sanctions regime will break down as soon as a substantial deal is reached, and I think, it’s likely that a deal will be reached because many western big businesses are angry with the sanctions regime, because the sanctions regime means more and more they just lose all their hard earned market shares to companies from China, and Iran stays afloat anyway with the help of China. Sanctioning China for doing so is not an option because China is too strong for that, it may heavily retaliate. Just imageine AIPAC gets congress and Obama to sign the bill that China will be cut off from the US financial system if it continues dealing with Iran while at the same time Secretary of the Treasury calls China to give the US more credit by buying more bonds. I think that’s the reason why Obama is now in a hurry to end Iran sanctions.

      When the international sanction regime against Iran is broken, the question for congress will be different: do you want General Motors to sell cars in Iran or would you prefer the Iranians to drive exclusively French and Chinese cars? Shall Chinese companies get all the Iranian gas and oil contracts or do you want to give US companies a chance, too?

      I could imagine that a company like GM is also able to do a bit of lobbying in the US congress to get what it wants:

      Then we may see, how powerful AIPAC is and whether it has the clout to sideline GM and US oil and gas companies.

  4. HarryLaw
    October 16, 2013, 11:56 am

    This reminds me of the North Korea debacle, then agreements put in place by the Clinton administration whereby North Korea would receive 500,000 tons of heavy oil per year and 2 light water reactors to replace the graphite-moderated ones under construction and the lifting of sanctions. When the Republicans took over congress they did not support the agreement, they regarded it as appeasement, so the oil supplies were delivered late and the economic sanctions were kept in place. Because of this North Korea warned that they would resume nuclear research unless the US kept its part of the bargain. Because the US played hard ball, negotiations broke down, and now North Korea is a nuclear weapons state, immune from attack. There is a lesson here somewhere, somehow I do not think the “exceptional nation” will pay any heed to it.

    • hophmi
      October 16, 2013, 1:18 pm

      Well, there’s no agree with Iran yet. So let’s have an agreement before talking about how the US is going to break it.

  5. Theo
    October 16, 2013, 12:27 pm

    It is well known that our representatives in the congress and senate lose their connection to those who elected them in a shortest time and start serving mannon.
    These two congresspersons just joined the ranks of those who already sold their souls to the highest bidder, in most cases the AIPAC and similar other groups or persons. They don´t serve their people anymore, but first comes their own interests, in second place is their party and after that they may just think what can they do for their country.

    A good example is the Speaker Boehner. Although he had enough bipartisan votes in the house to pass the necessary laws to lift this blockade of passing the new federal budget, he refuses to do it, because those 40 or so fanatical Tea Baggers who want to bring down the government, regardless of the costs. For him it is more important to keep his Speaker position that he surely would lose if he calls a vote.
    So never mind the hundreds of millions of dollars lost every week, the lost prestige of this once great land, the millions of federal employees not getting paid, he serves only himself and his own group of traitors.

    One could ask; the people who sent him to Washington, will they do it again? After this fiasco? If one looks at the history of how the voters keep sending the same persons back to DC, we can guess that he will have another turn to serve himself!!

  6. LanceThruster
    October 16, 2013, 12:39 pm

    Frelling PEP!

  7. Kathleen
    October 16, 2013, 1:54 pm

    As many have said in the past it is the so called liberal Dems that are a real problem when it comes to supporting Aipac/Jinsa right wing legislation having to do with undermining the Palestinians, supporting Israel no matter what and passing aggressive and unnecessary legislation isolating Iran.

    Write Murray and Markey as well as your own Reps on Israel pushing the U.S. towards a military confrontation with Iran. If Hillary gets in next stop will be Iran.

  8. just
    October 16, 2013, 2:01 pm

    This darned teacher and her “students” need to go back to school. Ed Markey should be ashamed. Ugh. Stop whining about “your Vets” and your precious story and start being honest.

    You serve our country– not greedy, thieving, murderous Israel.

    Try to make peace, not war.

  9. James Canning
    James Canning
    October 16, 2013, 7:55 pm

    I was surprised Patty Murray would back Aipac’s dangerous and foolish effort to block an improvement in US relations with Iran.

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