47 Senators Take AIPAC’s Word Over U.S. Intel Community

by Jim Lobe

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has published the list of senators who so far have agreed to co-sponsor the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013, aka the Wag the Dog Act of 2014. You’ll recall that the initial list, which was introduced by its principal engineers, Sens. Mark Kirk and Robert Menendez, Dec 19, included 26 co-sponsors equally divided between Democrats and Republicans, to which newly elected New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker quickly added his name. Since then, 20 other senators — all Republicans, unsurprisingly — have added their names, for a grand total of 47 — still short of a majority, let alone one that could survive an Obama veto that the White House has already committed the president to cast if the bill is passed in its present form.

According to the AIPAC list, which is reproduced below, 53 senators, including 36 Democrats and the two independents who normally vote with the Democratic caucus, have not agreed to co-sponsor the bill, or, in the dreaded moniker used by AIPAC to score lawmakers’ voting records (presumably for the benefit of the “pro-Israel” PACs that decide how to dole out campaign cash), are labeled “DNC.” They will undoubtedly be the top targets for AIPAC’s legendary powers of persuasion when the Senate reconvenes early next week.

What is remarkable about this list, however, is that very few of the 47 co-sponsors have chosen to publicize their support for the bill to their constituents through local media or other means. A handful of the original co-sponsors put out press releases, as did Rob Portman, a late joiner. Lamar Alexander, another late-comer, courageously “tweeted” his backing for the bill. “If this were a bill senators were excited about; that is, something they thought they’d earn a lot of credit for — and not draw a lot of heat — from their voters, you’d think all of the co-sponsors would be proudly touting their support,” one veteran Hill observer told me. “Clearly, even for the Republican [co-sponsors], that doesn’t seem to be the case with this bill.”

In other words, the co-sponsors appear to be targeting a very narrow constituency — AIPAC, which is now touting their names — rather than  their voters back home, most of whom probably have no idea of what their senator’s position is or what may be at stake. Which raises an interesting question: If the folks back home knew that their senator was supporting a bill that would make another war in the Middle East more, rather than less likely, would there be an outcry as there was after Obama (and AIPAC) asked Congress to approve military action against Syria? Would some senators feel compelled to reassess their support?

One other point: others — most recently and convincingly, Colin Kahl and Paul Pillar — have argued just how counter-productive and potentially dangerous this bill is, and we have republished their arguments for the benefit of LobeLog readers in recent days. But it should be stressed that the 47 co-sponsors of this bill, most notably the 14 Democrats who have signed on to it, have effectively decided that Bibi Netanyahu and AIPAC are more credible sources about Iran and what it is likely to do in the P5+1 negotiations if this sanctions bill becomes law than either the U.S. diplomats who are directly involved in the talks or the U.S. intelligence community. Which is a rather startling fact, especially given, for example, Bibi’s predictive record on Iraq in the run-up to the U.S. invasion and his quarrels with his own intelligence community with respect to Iran.

U.S. officials beginning at the top with Obama, then running through John Kerry and Wendy Sherman have stated repeatedly that the passage of a new sanctions bill — even one that would take effect prospectively — would not only violate the spirit, if not the letter, of the Nov. 24 agreement; it would also call into serious question Washington’s good faith; quite possibly isolate the U.S. within the P5+1 with disastrous results for the existing sanctions regime; and sufficiently strengthen hardliners in Tehran to force its government to toughen its demands at the negotiating table, if not abandon the diplomatic path altogether (and with it the chances of a peaceful diplomatic settlement). As the most recent assessment by the intelligence community, for which these same 47 senators have approved annual budgets ranging as high as 70 billion dollars in recent years, concluded: “[N]ew sanctions would undermine the prospects for a successful comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran.”

Of course, that’s precisely why Netanyahu and AIPAC are pushing the new sanctions package.

S. 1881

The Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013

Below is a list of senators who have cosponsored or indicated their intention to cosponsor The Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013.

47 Members Who Cosponsored

First Name Last Name State Party Status
Lamar Alexander TN R C
Kelly Ayotte NH R C
Mark Begich AK D C
Richard Blumenthal CT D C
Roy Blunt MO R C
Cory Booker NJ D C
John Boozman AR R C
Benjamin Cardin MD D C
Bob Casey PA D C
Saxby Chambliss GA R C
Daniel Coats IN R C
Thomas Coburn OK R C
Susan Collins ME R C
Chris Coons DE D C
Bob Corker TN R C
John Cornyn TX R C
Ted Cruz TX R C
Joe Donnelly IN D C
Michael Enzi WY R C
Deb Fischer NE R C
Kirsten Gillibrand NY D C
Lindsey Graham SC R C
Kay Hagan NC D C
Orrin Hatch UT R C
Jim Inhofe OK R C
Johnny Isakson GA R C
Mike Johanns NE R C
Mark Kirk IL R C
Mary Landrieu LA D C
Mike Lee UT R C
Joe Manchin WV D C
John McCain AZ R C
Bob Menendez NJ D C
Jerry Moran KS R C
Lisa Murkowski AK R C
Rob Portman OH R C
Mark Pryor AR D C
James Risch ID R C
Pat Roberts KS R C
Marco Rubio FL R C
Charles Schumer NY D C
Tim Scott SC R C
John Thune SD R C
Pat Toomey PA R C
David Vitter LA R C
Mark Warner VA D C
Roger Wicker MS R C

53 Members Who Did Not Cosponsor

First Name Last Name State Party Status
Tammy Baldwin WI D DNC
John Barrasso WY R DNC
Max Baucus MT D DNC
Michael Bennet CO D DNC
Barbara Boxer CA D DNC
Sherrod Brown OH D DNC
Richard Burr NC R DNC
Maria Cantwell WA D DNC
Thomas Carper DE D DNC
Thad Cochran MS R DNC
Michael Crapo ID R DNC
Richard Durbin IL D DNC
Dianne Feinstein CA D DNC
Jeff Flake AZ R DNC
Al Franken MN D DNC
Chuck Grassley IA R DNC
Tom Harkin IA D DNC
Martin Heinrich NM D DNC
Heidi Heitkamp ND D DNC
Dean Heller NV R DNC
Mazie Hirono HI D DNC
John Hoeven ND R DNC
Tim Johnson SD D DNC
Ron Johnson WI R DNC
Timothy Kaine VA D DNC
Angus King ME I DNC
Amy Klobuchar MN D DNC
Patrick Leahy VT D DNC
Carl Levin MI D DNC
Ed Markey MA D DNC
Claire McCaskill MO D DNC
Mitch McConnell KY R DNC
Jeff Merkley OR D DNC
Barbara Mikulski MD D DNC
Christopher Murphy CT D DNC
Patty Murray WA D DNC
Bill Nelson FL D DNC
Rand Paul KY R DNC
Jack Reed RI D DNC
Harry Reid NV D DNC
Jay Rockefeller WV D DNC
Bernie Sanders VT I DNC
Brian Schatz HI D DNC
Jeff Sessions AL R DNC
Jeanne Shaheen NH D DNC
Richard Shelby AL R DNC
Debbie Stabenow MI D DNC
Jon Tester MT D DNC
Mark Udall CO D DNC
Tom Udall NM D DNC
Elizabeth Warren MA D DNC
Sheldon Whitehouse RI D DNC
Ron Wyden OR D DNC

Jim Lobe

Jim Lobe served for some 30 years as the Washington DC bureau chief for Inter Press Service and is best known for his coverage of U.S. foreign policy and the influence of the neoconservative movement.



  1. The Zionist and their settlers backing cannot be allowed to dictate American foreign policy they are also biting the hand that feeds them 5billion annually.

  2. American advocates of sanctions against the South African apartheid regime largely leaned left…opponents inclined the other way…now the directions are reversed…the lefties want to ease up on Iran and the righties to crack down…no principles of international law or nuances of diplomacy and negotiation explain these reversals…the reason is much simpler and blunter…the senators signing on to threaten Iran with more sanctions are not doing this to ratchet up pressure that results in a peaceful deal between the US and the Islamic republic of Iran…their aim is to wreck and replace that government…just as opponents of apartheid South Africa aimed to do by sanctions.

  3. A lot of these people may have been snapped undressed in motel rooms bending down to pick up a shekel !

  4. The c in the columm to the right stands for coward. The dnc stands for do not cave.

  5. Some of those who are trying to block a deal between Iran and the P5+1, so so with hopes of increasing chances for an overthrow of Iranian government. Others do so simply to make it easier for Israel to continue to grow its illegal colonies in the West Bank (and Golan Heights).

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