A leading Democratic senator said Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell is continuing to push for an up-or-down vote on approving the Iran nuclear deal to score points with "some groups."
Illinois senator Dick Durbin, a supporter of the Iran deal and the Democratic whip, criticized McConnell during a press conference in the Capitol with other Democratic leaders. Democrats have so far blocked efforts to end Senate debate on the Iran deal, most recently Tuesday night. Republicans argue the Senate should actually vote on approval.
"He wants to drag this out as long as possible," Durbin said of McConnell. "It’s no longer about the merits of the agreement. It’s about the politics of the agreement. This is an effort by Senator McConnell to try to make political points with some groups and people around America."
When asked by THE WEEKLY STANDARD what groups he was referring to, Durbin refused to clarify. "I don't know, I think you can figure it out," he said.
Several organizations have come out against the deal, the largest of which is the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee. Polls have showed decreasingsupport for the deal among the American people, as well.
From his place on the podium at AIPAC’s annual policy conference last week, Benjamin Netanyahu surveyed the Middle East. “On the one side stands Israel, animated by the values we cherish,” said the Israeli prime minister. And on the other side are Iran, Bashar al-Assad, and Hezbollah—“the forces of terror . . . steeped in blood and savagery.” There’s a “moral divide,” said Netanyahu, “that separates Israel from its enemies.”
The liberal lobbying group J Street, which has operated under the pretense of being pro-Israel, has really taken a hit in the last week. Eli Lake of the Washington Times uncovered that, despite J Street’s longstandinginsistence to the contrary, the group has received significant funding from financier George Soros and his children. Additionally, the same report revealed that J Street received $811,967, from a woman named Consolacion Esdicul, a resident of Happy Valley, Hong Kong and an associate of Bill Benter, a hugely successful international gambler.
Last week, the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC announced it was supporting letters circulating Congress – a House version and a Senate one – supporting the Jewish state’s right to defend herself and reaffirming American support of its liberal democratic ally in the Middle East. The Senate letter is led by Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and GOP Leader Mitch McConnell. In the House, Republican Ted Poe and Democrat Gary Peters, joined by Steny Hoyer and Eric Cantor and Howard Berman and Illeana Ros-Leithene, are leading the effort.
Dana Milbank takes the AIPAC crowd to task for the tepid response it gave Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s speech at this year’s policy conference. It is true, as Milbank states, that Clinton is a longtime friend of the state of Israel, and it is also true that compared with the many protesters the conference attracted (many were yelling comments to attendees as they arrived at the Washington Convention Center), Secretary Clinton should’ve been welcomed. But it is also worth noting what Clinton actually said to the pro-Israel activists.
The Hill reports that a number of Democrats think Hillary Clinton's tongue-lashing of Netanyahu is irresponsible:
"The appropriate response was a shake of the head – not a temper tantrum," Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), a member of the House Jewish Caucus, said in a statement today, "Israel is a sovereign nation and an ally, not a punching bag. Enough already.”