Aside from motherhood and apple pie resolutions, it is rare for a bill to pass the US Senate by a margin of 100 to 0 - and especially when the wording of the bill is opposed by the president.
The Senate 100-0 approved a sanctions bill against Iran that according to its Republican sponsor Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois meant that congressional support for the administration on that issue had collapsed.
Kirk said that the lawmakers now believe that time is running out and therefore the administration's incrementalism was no longer a valid option. Kirk and co-sponsor Democratic Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey proposed an amendment that would prohibit any US financial entity from doing business with the Central Bank of Iran. The administration sought to oppose the bill on the grounds that it could cause a spike in oil prices and produce friction with the allies over this issue. Kirk and Menendez were willing to negotiate with the White House on the language and believed that they had won approval for their version, except that the administration then reversed itself and dispatched a parade of witnesses to Capitol Hill to oppose the measure.
Kirk and Menendez, whose bill must now be reconciled with the House version, wrote their House counterparts urging them to hold the line against attempts by the administration to weaken the bill.
The administration is counting on Representative Howard Berman of California, the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, to do the job for it. Berman, due to redistricting, is going to confront fellow Congressman Brad Sherman in the next election and the latter is ready to pounce on Berman if he seeks to accommodate the administration. Sherman has commended the Senate bill as "absolutely right" and he has assailed Berman's call for tough and sensible sanctions: Sherman told the JTA "Tough and sensible means soft and hard. It means jumbo shrimp. It's an oxymoron."
He added that "the purpose of the law is to force the administration to do something they don't want to do," Sherman, by the way, is a Democrat.