Sen. Cotton: Don’t Want to Vote on Iran Amendments? ‘You Shouldn’t Have Come to the Senate’

By Patrick Goodenough | May 1, 2015 | 6:10am EDT

( – Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) on Thursday criticized senators leery of two controversial amendments to a bipartisan compromise bill seeking to give Congress a say on the Iran nuclear agreement, saying if they did not want to vote, they “shouldn’t have come to the Senate.”

“If you’re in the Senate and you don’t want to vote, you should leave,” he added.

Echoing the words of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on the Senate floor a day earlier, Cotton suggested that senators unwilling to cast difficult votes should become columnists, or host a talk show.

Cotton and Rubio have proposed amendments touching on two issues few lawmakers from either party would wish to oppose in a roll call vote – strong backing for Israel and strict prerequisites for Iran to receive sanctions relief.

Rubio’s amendment would require Tehran to recognize Israel’s right to exist, while Cotton’s would require the Iranians to take specified steps, including giving international inspectors full access to suspicious sites, before getting relief from sanctions.

They are among a raft of proposed GOP amendments to the Iran Nuclear Review Act critics describe as “poison pills” because of their potential to derail the bill by costing it Democrats’ support and prompting the White House to renew its earlier veto threat.

After Cotton pushed Thursday for votes on the two amendments and used a procedural tactic to jump to the front of the queue, the bill’s author, Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said that he had “a sense that the context of this has just changed, and so I regret that.”

Corker was subsequently quoted as predicting that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell may now move to end debate altogether, preventing further consideration of amendments. A cloture motion would need 60 votes to succeed.

Appealing for a vote on the two amendments, Cotton was critical of senators evidently reluctant to do so.

It was fine for senators to vote no if they disagreed with the substance of the amendments, he said, and it was also fine for senators to vote no if they were concerned that amendments could unravel delicate compromise legislation.

“But we need to vote. If you don’t want to vote, you shouldn’t have come to the Senate. If you’re in the Senate and you don’t want to vote, you should leave.”

“As the senator from Florida said yesterday, be a talk show host. Be a columnist,” Cotton added. “It’s time that we have a vote, and a simple majority threshold, on all of these critical points.”

Cotton’s amendment deals with whether Iran should get sanctions relief before it discloses the possible military dimensions of its nuclear program, before it closes its underground fortified bunker at Fordow, and before it submits to “a fully-verifiable, anytime anywhere, no-notice inspections regime.”

Rubio’s amendment, which Cotton has added to his own as a second degree measure, would require the Iranian leadership to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.

“They continue to say that Israel will be wiped off the map,” Cotton said. “And if they get nuclear weapons they will have the means to do so.”

During his speech on Wednesday, Rubio was similarly critical of those unwilling to vote on his amendment.

“If you don’t want to vote on things, don’t run for the Senate. If you don’t want to vote on things, don’t run for office. Be a columnist. Get a talk show,” he said.

“Everyone who runs for office knows that what we are called to do here is vote on issues that sometimes we’re uncomfortable on.”

“Don’t tell me that we can’t have votes on these things. You can argue that we shouldn’t pass them and I’ll argue against you,” Rubio said. “But don’t tell me that we can’t even vote on them.

“Because then what you’re saying is you want to be protected from taking a position on them; you don’t want to take a position that you think is tough. And that I find to be unacceptable.”

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