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But in the Senate, even Jewish senators have fallen on both sides of this debate, with a majority unwilling to support the measure. New York’s Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer has been leading the pack in support of the new sanctions bill, which was authored by Democrat Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Republican Mark Kirk of Illinois. Maryland Democrat Ben Cardin is also a strong supporter of the bill. But Connecticut Democrat Richard Blumenthal, one of the bill’s original co-sponsors, has recently changed his mind and is now opposed to the measure.
Others who oppose the bill include Democratic Jewish senators Carl Levin of Michigan, Ron Wyden of Oregon, and Californians Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer.
Feinstein came under fire from pro-Israel activists after stating in a January 15 Senate floor speech that the bill could be interpreted as allowing Israel to “determine when and where the United States goes to war.”
Vermont independent Bernard Sanders, who is also Jewish, also strongly opposes the bill.
This poses a delicate problem for AIPAC, which has long made the bipartisan nature of its support in Congress a prime point.
Wasserman Schultz has no formal standing in the current Senate debate. But her reported activism behind the scenes in seeking to stave off support for the bill and the unique impact of her status in both houses as DNC chief has, most likely, led to the targeted pressure Jewish activists are exerting on her.
Those pressures include calls to Wasserman Schultz’s district office in Florida from AIPAC members, prompted by an AIPAC email to its Sunshine State supporters urging them to “respectfully ask” whether reports that she was working to block the Iran measure are true.