Sealed: Obama secures votes to override Congress on Iran deal
Barbara Mikulski of Maryland announced on Wednesday she would endorse the agreement, finalized in July after lengthy negotiations between Iran and six world powers. The decision, she said, came after careful consideration of how the deal would affect both the US and Israel.
“I have spent countless hours reading, being briefed and pouring over the intelligence. I have diligently worked to make an informed decision,” Mikulski said, calling the deal the “the best option available to block Iran from having a nuclear bomb.”
My statement on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action - http://t.co/0WVirDQW2X— Barbara Mikulski (@SenatorBarb) September 2, 2015
“I have been an unabashed and unwavering supporter of Israel,” Mikulski noted. The current government of Israel is vehemently opposed to the deal, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling it a “historical mistake.”
Congressional approval of a treaty would normally require 67 votes in the 100-member Senate. However, under the law giving Congress review powers over the Iran deal, the legislators would need 67 votes to pass a resolution of disapproval immune to the presidential veto. With Mikulski’s endorsement being the 34th vote in favor of the deal, the Republicans do not have the required majority to sink the deal in the Senate.
The White House has made a big push to “sell” the deal to the American public, with President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry giving a series of major speeches explaining the agreement’s salient points. The Obama administration even created a separate Twitter account, promoting The Iran Deal with memes and catchy quotes.
Kerry gave an impassioned speech about the deal on Wednesday in Philadelphia, arguing that the agreement would stop a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. Earlier in the day, he made an appearance on MSNBC, saying that upholding the deal was a matter of US credibility.
“Given the suspicions that [Iran’s] Supreme Leader had about even entering into negotiations us,” Kerry told MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, if the US walks away from the deal “we will have proven their worst fears, that you can't deal with the West. You can't trust the West.”
Republicans, on the other hand, have made opposition to the deal a major issue in the upcoming 2016 presidential election. All the candidates for the party’s nomination have publicly spoken out against the agreement, and pledged to revoke it should they get elected.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio has called the deal “fundamentally and irreparably flawed,” and vowed to overturn it should he become president.
When I'm President, we won't just reverse President Obama's dangerous Iran deal. We will increase sanctions on Iran.— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) September 2, 2015
Another contender, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, dubbed the agreement “the biggest miscalculation since Munich” that would empower Iran “one day to create the second Holocaust.”
Graham was speaking at a demonstration in New York on Tuesday, with protesters picketing the office of Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand over her support for the deal. At the same gathering, former Senator from Connecticut Joseph Lieberman blasted the deal as “the worst agreement to be negotiated diplomatically in the history of the United States of America.” A former Democrat, Lieberman was Al Gore’s running mate in 2000.
If ten more Senate Democrats endorse the deal before the disapproval resolution comes up for a vote, it may even be possible for the White House to filibuster the debate and run out the clock before the deadline for Congress to weigh in on the deal expires on September 17.