Senate Democrats are scrambling to try to squash legislation from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) to slap sanctions on businesses linked to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which will carry gas from Russia to Germany.
State Department officials, at the invitation of Senate Democrats opposed to Cruz’s bill, on Monday night briefed a group of Democrats, including senators viewed as swing votes on the GOP sanctions bills that will get a vote this week. To pass the bill through the Senate, Cruz will need to the support of at least 10 Democratic senators.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who opposes Cruz’s bill and helped organize Monday’s meeting, said he thought momentum was moving toward Democrats blocking Cruz’s legislation, though he wasn’t sure if they would be able to keep the number of Democratic “yes” votes below 10.
“Sen. Cruz’s desire is to break the United States from Europe,” Murphy said. “I think this amendment is really unwise, and I don’t know where the votes will land on it.”
“We asked them to brief the group of senators who we know are undecided,” Murphy added about the meeting with the State Department officials.
Democratic Sens. Jon Tester (Mont.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Jackie Rosen (Nev.) and John Hickenlooper (Colo.) were among the senators entering Monday night’s briefing, where Victoria Nuland, the under secretary of State for political affairs, met with senators.
Senators say the pitch from the State Department focused on an argument that Cruz’s amendment wouldn’t deter Russia from invading Ukraine, where it has amassed troops along the border.
“The message was that it would hurt the negotiations that have been going on with Germany, with the Ukraine in terms of Russia’s impact on the Ukraine,” Tester said.
Tester, who said he was undecided, added that the administration needs to do a “better job of messaging where the flaws are” in the Cruz proposal.
“It was very, very interesting, I think it puts Germany in a difficult situation. … We’ve got make sure if we’re going to do sanctions that the sanctions are focused on the problem and not on collateral folks,” Tester said.
Manchin added that he was trying to learn about the potential “diplomatic ramifications” with the U.S-German relationship if Cruz’s legislation was passed.
“I’m learning more about that. … I’m gonna look and see. I’m going to hear both sides of this argument,” Manchin said, indicating that he was also going to reach out to German officials.
Democrats agreed to allow for a vote on Cruz’s legislation at a 60-vote threshold in exchange for the Texas Republican dropping his blockade on some of Biden’s nominees, who were confirmed as part of a marathon session late last year. As part of the deal, the Senate has …….