62 senators, including 16 Democrats, vote to oppose nuclear-only Iran deal

A majority of senators, including 16 Democrats, voted on Wednesday night in favor of a non-binding Senate measure that opposes entering into an Iran deal addressing only the regime’s nuclear program as well as the removal of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ terrorism designation. The final vote on the measure was 62 to 33.

Wednesday’s vote came on a motion introduced by Sen. James Lankford (R-OK), as part of the Senate’s consideration of the United States Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) aimed at countering China.

The motion instructs the senators negotiating the final bill with the House to “insist” that the legislation include language requiring any nuclear weapons agreement with Iran to include provisions “addressing the full range of Iran’s destabilizing activities,” including missiles, terrorism and sanctions evasion; does not lift any sanctions on the IRGC; and does not revoke the IRGC’s terror designation.

The Biden administration has sought to rejoin the 2015 nuclear agreement, from which the Trump administration withdrew in 2018. The original deal did not address issues beyond Iran’s nuclear program.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chris Coons (D-DE), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Angus King (I-ME), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Jon Tester (D-MT) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) voted for the measure.

The measure had reportedly become a matter of contention in the Senate, with some Democrats trying to block the vote.

Lankford allegedly threatened to block Senate proceedings on the bill unless guaranteed a vote on the measure.

Iran has demanded that the U.S. withdraw the IRGC’s Foreign Terrorist Organization designation. Secretary of State Tony Blinken told Congress last week that the group would have to cease its support for terrorism in order for the designation to be withdrawn, but also argued that the designation is largely ineffectual because other IRGC sanctions would remain in place.

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