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Jim Risch: Top Republican on Senate Foreign Relations panel threatens to block committee action over ICC sanctions bill | CNN Politics

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Sen. James Risch speaks during a news conference with fellow Republican senators at the US Capitol on May 9, in Washington, DC.



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The top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is threatening to block all action on nominees and legislation in the committee unless progress is made to pass sanctions against the International Criminal Court, which has drawn bipartisan fire for its recent indictments of top leaders of both Israel and Hamas.

The dramatic move in a committee known for bipartisan cooperation – which was first reported by Punchbowl News – speaks to Republican Sen. Jim Risch’s frustration with the inability to reach a deal, especially after a similar bill passed the House last week that had the support of 42 Democrats.

“There were numerous phone calls between a bipartisan group of senators who were galvanized to work on legislation regarding doing something on the ICC, but over the course of the last three weeks that motivation seems to have gone away,” according to source familiar with the dynamics.

Suzanne Wrasse, a Risch spokesperson, said the senator from Idaho “is willing to pursue multiple avenues for the Senate to work on ICC legislation, but despite several offers made by Risch and his colleagues to negotiate, Democrats have not responded substantively and we haven’t made progress.”

Republicans believe the fastest way to pass a sanctions bill would be for the Senate to take up one that passed the House, especially as the number of legislative days before the August recess are shrinking.

But Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, who chairs the Foreign Relations Committee, criticized the House measure as a “divisive partisan bill” and said he is trying to reach a deal with Republicans to move bipartisan sanctions legislation.

“Defending Israel from this flawed and biased prosecution deserves the same united support we share for the entire US-Israel relationship,” he said. “Political maneuvering by Republicans have made a bipartisan bill more difficult, but I have continued talks with those Republicans who are genuinely interested in a bipartisan path forward.”

Cardin met with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Tuesday afternoon. Cardin departed Schumer’s office without a clear resolution in sight, but he vowed to continue working with Risch and other Republicans to find a bipartisan solution to the standoff and that would get the support of President Joe Biden.

“If we’re going to get to the finish line, we’re going to need a bipartisan bill,” he said.

“Sen. Risch and I have a good relationship and we will continue that. I’ve heard this before,” he added about Risch’s concerns. ”It’s not something new. We work well together.”

Risch posted of X that he looks forward to the ICC legislation being on the agenda of the committee’s next meeting.

This story has been updated with additional developments.

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