The tension between Senate Democrats such as Sen. Bob Menendez (N.J.) and President Obama is clearly escalating over the issue of Iran.
“I have to be honest with you, the more I hear from the administration and its quotes, the more it sounds like talking points that come straight out of Tehran. And it feeds to the Iranian narrative of victimization when they are the ones with original sin,” Menendez said during a congressional hearing.
Menendez has led the Democratic caucus against Obama’s calls for Congress not to add more sanctions to Iran. Obama maintains that more sanctions may foil negotiations with Iran to end their nuclear program. Senate Republicans and a number of Democrats disagree, saying that sanctions will motivate Iran to cut a deal or face economic ruin, and that the sanctions would not be implemented unless Iran walked away from the negotiating table.
This is not the first time Menendez and Obama have butted heads on the issue. Last week, the two confronted each other about Iran when Democrats held a strategy meeting. Their sharp exchange during the Baltimore retreat ended after Obama insinuated that outside forces such as special interests were influencing the senators. Following the president’s suggestion, Menendez stood up and said that he was “personally offended.”
Menendez said that he can get enough Senate Democrats to join Republicans to override Obama with a supermajority of 67 votes should Obama decide to veto additional sanctions.