The number of co-sponsors backing the Iran sanctions bill introduced before the holiday by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) has now reached 50, according to the Jerusalem Post.
The last recorded number in the Library of Congress database is 47 co-sponsors. The most recent bump shows that not only would the bill that angers the White House pass on a bipartisan basis, but would likely hit a veto-proof majority on a bipartisan basis.
At least 14 Democrats have signed on board the bill, including Sens. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.).
Supporters need 67 votes for a veto-proof majority. Assuming all Republicans vote for the bill, that leaves 22 Democrats needed come voting time.
Both Colorado senators –Mark Udall (D) and Michael Bennet — have previously supported sanctions legislation. Other potential votes could include Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Clarie McCaskill (D-Mo.), Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.).
The Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act was introduced Dec. 19 by more than a quarter of the Senate. The bipartisan legislation proposes prospective sanctions against Iran’s petroleum, engineering, mining and construction sectors should the regime violate the interim Joint Plan of Action agreed to in Geneva or should Iran fail to reach a final agreement with the P5+1.
“With regards to this particular measure, we don’t think it will be enacted. We certainly don’t think it should be enacted,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said at the time, promising a presidential veto. “And the reason why it should not and does not need to be enacted is because if Iran does not comply with its obligations under the Joint Plan of Action, the preliminary agreement, or if Iran fails to reach agreement with the P5-plus-1 on the more comprehensive agreement over the course of six months, we are very confident that we can work with Congress to very quickly pass new, effective sanctions against Iran. And it is our view that it is very important to refrain from taking an action that would potentially disrupt the opportunity here for a diplomatic resolution of this challenge.”
The Menendez-Kirk effort already has high-ranking support from House leadership, with a similar resolution offered by Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.).
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has warned that “the entire deal is dead” if new sanctions are enacted.
“We do not like to negotiate under duress. And if Congress adopts sanctions, it shows lack of seriousness and lack of a desire to achieve a resolution on the part of the United States,” Zarif said.
However, the deal forged by the Obama administration and the European Union hasn’t even been implemented yet.