David Vitter may not have made as much of a splash in terms of publicity as Ted Cruz, but in his own way he has been as much of a thorn in the side of President Obama and Senate Democrats as any other conservative Republican. Vitter is best known to many in the country for his role in a prostitution scandal that he survived thanks to the loose morals that have always prevailed in Louisiana politics. But in recent months his crusade against allowing members of Congress to be exempt from ObamaCare has endeared him to the GOP core and driven Democrats straight up the wall. Vitter has so far been largely frustrated in his efforts, but he is undeterred and is still seeking a vote on an amendment seeking to expose whether members are putting their staffs on the ObamaCare exchanges. But Vitter’s insistence on getting that vote and his willingness to use his power to withhold consent on another unrelated bill may be doing a huge favor for the president.
As Politico reports, unless Vitter gives in on these two points, the delays caused by his holds will mean that the Defense Authorization bill won’t be voted on until sometime in December. That helps the administration since a delay on that vote would mean there will be no toughened sanctions on Iran passed until after the next meeting of the P5+1 group where Secretary of State John Kerry will try again to strike a deal with Tehran that will loosen the restrictions on doing business with the Islamist state. As such, the embattled Kerry is hoping Vitter will hang tough and give him the room he needs—and which many senators would rightly wish to deny him—to pursue engagement with the ayatollahs.
Momentum is building for more sanctions as Democrats like Pennsylvania’s Bob Casey are joining with Republicans on the Banking Committee to push for more sanctions. Yet Vitter’s holds, though he has stuck to them for a good cause, will ensure that Kerry gets the delay on more action against Iran that he has been calling for. Kerry alienated senators with remarks in which he vented his spleen against Israel and urged them to ignore Israeli concerns and intelligence about how his deal would do nothing to stop Iran’s progress toward a nuclear weapon. With bipartisan disgust about the administration’s rush to engage again with Iran, it’s growing increasingly likely that any vote on sanctions would be positive. But if Vitter does not relent, the Iranians will be spared further inconvenience until after they get an all-too-eager Kerry back at the negotiating table.
Vitter, who is as stalwart a supporter of Israel as he is a foe of ObamaCare, should get his vote on congressional hypocrisy. But either way he should do whatever he can to make sure Congress puts Kerry on notice that he is not free to pursue his policy of appeasement with impunity.