Republican leaders are preparing to clamp down on Sen. Tom Cotton’s efforts to derail a bipartisan compromise on legislation giving Congress review power over a nuclear deal with Iran, clearing the way for it to be passed this week.
Cotton had attempted to force a vote on an amendment putting additional requirements on Iran, as well as an amendment from Sen. Marco Rubio requiring Iran to recognize Israel's statehood. These amendments could derail ongoing negotiations and potentially lead President Obama to veto the bill.
Cotton's maneuver backfired, Politico reports:
Cotton made his move even though Democrats were considering votes on other contentious amendments, like one from presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) requiring that a nuclear deal with Iran be approved by Congress. Lawmakers were even beginning to discuss how to accommodate Rubio’s demands for a vote on the Israel provision.
Rather than securing those votes, Cotton’s tactics drove Democrats away from negotiating over any more GOP amendments that would draw opposition from the White House. To preserve the bipartisan coalition backing the bill, GOP leaders are expected to shut off debate and the chance to amend the bill, instead of allowing a vote on proposals dubbed “poison pills” by Democrats and some Republicans.
Republicans had hoped to bring a series of "poison pill" votes on amendments that would be politically tough for Democrats, as well as potentially adding more severe parameters to the bill; instead, Cotton's move stalled bipartisan talks over amendments and appears to have set the stage for a cloture vote this week, with no additional amendments. Many of Cotton's Republican colleagues are not pleased. From Politico:
After he forced his and Rubio’s issues, Cotton sat at a party lunch among many of his Republican colleagues as they learned they may have lost their chance to get votes on their amendments.
“I think that he understands now the full impact of what has occurred,” Corker said of Cotton.
Of course, if you're trying to establish yourself as Ted Cruz 2.0
, you don't lose sleep over tactics that were counterproductive. Cruz's image isn't based on getting anything accomplished, it's based on being the most extreme right winger in the room. That seems to be Cotton's political game plan. His brand of crazy is focused on foreign policy, and he has shown he's willing to get quite crazy indeed
. As a parliamentary maneuver, this was an unforced error, but simply by shouting loudest, he provides catnip for his Obama-hating base. Since most assume that Cotton has ambitions to make a run for the White House down the road, the question here is whether Cotton can avoid the fate of Cruz: the crown prince of the Tea Party has so thoroughly pissed off his Republican colleagues that Cruz will probably never have enough establishment support to win a GOP primary. Thus far Cotton's backstory and style have allowed him to remain more establishment-friendly than Cruz, but I wonder whether this week's shenanigans have won him some new enemies in his own camp.