AIPAC Breaks With GOP On Sanctions Against Iran

The largest pro-Israel lobbying group in the United States has broken with the GOP on the issue of using Congressional pressure to force President Obama to increase sanctions against Iran at the same time the U.S. is trying to negotiate a resolution to the issue of Iran’s nuclear program:

America’s main pro-Israel lobby came out against an immediate vote on Iran sanctions Thursday, just hours after 42 Republican senators demanded a vote.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) issued its statement after the bill’s author, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), took to the Senate floor and obliquely criticized the GOP push.

“We agree with the Chairman that stopping the Iranian nuclear program should rest on bipartisan support,” AIPAC said in an emailed statement, “and that there should not be a vote at this time on the measure.”
An AIPAC official confirmed the email’s validity and said the organization has never pushed for an immediate vote.

“We have not and are not calling for [an] immediate vote,” the official told The Hill.

Menendez did not directly call for a delay in his floor speech, but warned against making his bill, which was co-sponsored by 43 Republicans and 16 Democrats, a “partisan political issue.”

His speech came hours after all but one of the Republican co-sponsors wrote to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) demanding that he schedule a vote before the end of next week. None of the Democrats on the bill are calling for an immediate vote amid heavy pressure from President Obama, who argues that passing it now would doom nuclear talks.

This decision by AIPAC is likely to strengthen Democratic resolve to not give in to GOP pressure to bring the sanctions bill to a vote, meaning that it will effectively die in the Senate.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. michael reynolds says:

    I pointed out in comments re the SOTU that Obama was smacking AIPAC down – pretty much unprecedented in American politics. And now he has defeated AIPAC.

    Of course the GOP, which is terrified at the possibility that Obama would make a broader peace with Iran, will do its best to toady AIPAC. Spoiler alert: It still won’t get them the Jewish vote in 2016. But it will no doubt please the right wing Christianists whose love for Israel is predicated on their hope that Israel will bring on the apocalypse after which these “friends” of Israel hope to enjoy a heavenly Barcalounger from which to watch Jews roasting in the fires of hell.

  2. gVOR08 says:

    @michael reynolds: The GOPs would like their votes, but what they need is AIPACS’s money to buy other votes. And yes, it would be very helpful if people realized that hastening the apocalypse is why our holy roller friends want to support Israel.

    I would read this as saying that Netanyahu and Likud will scream and holler in public about Obama and the Iran deal, but they won’t actively oppose it. Which is to say that Obama stumbled his way into a triumph. Again.

  3. Ron Beasley says:

    I am just amount finished with Robert Gates’ book, Duty. What amazed me more than anything was how much he loathed Netenyahu which is an attitude he shared with most world leaders.

  4. Jim says:

    A reality could be settling in among AIPAC, that irrespective of who is the US President in the future, the broader American people have no stomach for another (and larger) extended war of choice.

    A negotiated settlement to Iranian nukes, may be the last, best chance to maintain an Iran that is free of nuclear weapons. If Iran were to develop the weapons, containment is as likely the American policy going forward.

  5. Change Iran Now says:

    Although Obama indicated that, if the negotiations fail, “he will be the first to call for more sanctions, and stand ready to exercise all options to make sure Iran does not build a nuclear weapon,” we have heard such “red lines” in the past that soon faded away.

    The president missed an opportunity to explain truthfully to the American people what is at stake for the United States’ own national security interests if Iran is allowed to succeed in obtaining a nuclear bomb. Instead, he chose to lull the American people into a false sense of security

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Change Iran Now: Well, why don’t you educate us now?

    OOOH OOOH I KNOW I KNOW… Because you are full of sh!t.