Our attention was captured this week not just by the Davos conference media coverage, but also by reflection of the growing rift on Capitol Hill – indeed, within the Democratic Party itself – over a bill that seeks to impose stronger sanctions on Iran.
Some media outlets, most notably The Huffington Post, have raked legislation initiator Senator Menendez and colleagues over the coals for the alleged “warmongering” attitude reflected in the bill.
This week, as the Geneva deal entered the implementation stage, the media upped the ante and sounded new alarm bells of concern by contending that Washington could compromise its efforts to engage with Iran not just by passing the bill – but merely by voting on it!
This take on the issue was thrust forward by Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent, who put the spotlight this week on key democratic senators who oppose a vote, such as Patty Murray and Elizabeth Warren.
Both senators raised important points in letters to their constituents: Murray that sanctions can be imposed on Iran if talks go awry even without a bill saying so expressly, and Warren that the suggestion of additional sanctions would undermine — or, in Sargent’s words, “derail” — the ongoing talks with the Islamic republic.
Readers may find it difficult to make sense of the numerous reports on the growing rift, and for good reason. Sargent’s claim regarding the stakes for Washington in terms of its engagement with Iran if the bill is put to a vote appears to be dominating the media at the moment, with little or no counter-weight.
The problem with Sargent’s line of thought is that it ignores the presumed sovereignty of the legislative branch. Perhaps someone in the media will pick up on this in the near future.