Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is hoping to pass 12 bills to fund the government through to 2017. However, they are being held up and may not pass at all over what is being called the poison-pill Cotton Amendment.
Named after Senator Tom Cotton (R-AK), the amendment would bar any funds from being used to buy heavy water from Iran.
In accordance with the Iran nuclear deal passed by the Obama Administration last year, the U.S. is buying heavy water from Iran’s Arak nuclear reactor. The logic behind this part of the deal being that it would take nuclear material out of the hands of the Iranians, who obviously are getting much needed finance in return.
Senator Cotton however, feels that the United States should not be giving any money to an enemy.
Last Friday, the Obama Administration announced that it would pay $8.6 million to buy 32 metric tons of heavy water and warned against any attempts to block the deal in Congress and the Cotton Amendment is designed to do just that.
Four Senate Republicans joined the Democrats to block McConnell’s funding bills over the Cotton Amendment because they believe it will draw a veto from the White House.
White House Press Secretary John Earnest has said that the administration is pleased that the spending bill did not pass because it avoids a standoff with Congress and preserves the Iran Deal.
“Senator Cotton is certainly no expert when it comes to heavy water. I’m confident that he couldn’t differentiate heavy water from sparkling water,” Earnest said. “His focus is on undermining the effective implementation of this agreement that prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is very displeased over the the blockage of this appropriations legislation. McConnell was hoping to pass funding legislation quickly and smoothly to show that Republicans can govern in advance of November’s elections.
“We now have a bipartisan opportunity to responsibly work through individual funding bills,” said McConnell. “What it will take is for our Democratic colleagues to end this obstruction and work cooperatively across the aisle instead. That’s not too much to ask.”
Senator Tom Cotton defended his Amendment on Wednesday.
My amendment simply seeks to stop US dollars from going to Iran.
— Tom Cotton (@SenTomCotton) 27 April 2016
[RT] [Associated Press]