Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), a member of the Senate leadership, came out Wednesday against passing a bill to slap more sanctions on Iran during an interim six-month nuclear deal between that country and the world powers.
"I believe the Administration should be given time to negotiate a strong verifiable comprehensive agreement," Murray said in a letter to her constituents. "However, if Iran does not agree to a comprehensive agreement that is acceptable, or if Iran does not abide by the terms of the interim agreement, I will work with my colleagues to swiftly enact sanctions in order to increase pressure on the Iranian regime."
The Washington Post first obtained the letter, and Murray's office shared the missive with The Huffington Post but offered no additional comment. Murray's position is similar to that of President Barack Obama, who opposes further sanctions during the interim agreement -- to which the United States is party -- but has stated his willingness to pass them if the deal does not work out.
Murray's public opposition to passing additional sanctions signals that the Senate Democratic leadership is moving away from the bill. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has delayed holding a vote on the bill, which has 43 Republican and 15 Democratic co-sponsors. On the other hand, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the chamber's third-ranking Democrat, is a co-sponsor. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) does not have an official position on the bill but has joined with Reid in opposing bringing it to the floor and backs giving diplomatic efforts more time.
Wednesday's letter also suggests a shift in Murray's thinking. In October, she signed a saber-rattling letter -- along with such Iran hawks as Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) -- warning the president that "we are prepared to move forward with new sanctions to increase pressure on the government in Tehran."
The Post reported that Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has likewise sent a letter to constituents opposing the bill. Warren had already voiced skepticism about the idea of adding more sanctions at a Dec. 13 hearing and has favored the interim deal.