Jessica Schulberg & Ryan Grim -Huff Post World Post
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama needs 34 senators or 144 House members to stick with him in support of the nuclear deal recently negotiated with Iran. Obama has vowed to veto a congressional resolution of disapproval, which lawmakers are scheduled to vote on in September, and one-third of either chamber will be required to prevent the veto from being overturned.
The House is considered an easier playing field for Obama, since Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is a strong backer of the deal and has proven adept at holding together her caucus.
The analysis indicates that 12 undecided Democrats are likely to back the deal, bringing the number of pro-deal voters to a probable 31. Another 11 senators are wavering, but may be convinced by public pressure or by the Obama administration — which is heavily lobbying all of the fence-sitters — to come around to supporting the agreement. If all eleven senators came along, it would bring the total to 42.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is the only Democrat who has publicly announced that he will vote down the deal, although Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) is expected to join him.
VERY LIKELY YES, BUT NOT OFFICIALLY IN THE BAG (12)
Sherrod Brown (Ohio) @sensherrodbrown
“Americans prefer a diplomatic solution that ensures Iran cannot develop or obtain a nuclear weapon,” Brown said on July 14, the day the deal was announced. “If early reports are correct, it appears the agreement the U.S. and other U.N. Security Council nations have finally reached with Iran is the kind of durable and verifiable agreement that is far preferable to further escalation and possible military action.”
More recently, Brown said he was “so disappointed” in the politicized nature of the debate and criticized lawmakers who came out in opposition to the agreement the day it was announced.
Michael Bennet (Colo.) @senbennetCO
“A good deal could bring greater stability to the Middle East, more security throughout the world, and help avoid escalation in the region,” Bennet said on July 14. The Colorado Democrat is close to the White House and up for re-election in 2016.
Tom Carper (Del.) @senatorcarper
“I’m doing my homework, doing my due diligence,” Carper told Delaware Public Media late last week. “I’m leaning yes, but I’m going to hold off until I actually finish reading the deal over the next week or so and I have a couple phone calls I want to make to other people who have been involved in this and help make the decision.”
Mazie Hirono (Hawaii) @maziehirono
“The pathway to implementing a deal to effectively prevent Iran from obtaining or developing a nuclear weapon is in sight,” the junior senator from Hawaii said on July 14. Sen. Brian Schatz, her fellow Democrat from Hawaii, has already said he’s a firm yes.
Joe Manchin (W.Va.) @Sen_JoeManchin
The red-state Democrat has said he is leaning towards backing the agreement. “Everybody says there is a better deal,” he told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” in late July. “What options are on the table or even basically discussed I could consider voting for?
“I’m leaning very strongly to saying, OK, let’s try going along with the P5+1,” he continued, referring to the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China, which collectively negotiated the deal with Iran.
Manchin backed two rounds of sanctions legislation in the past two years that were opposed by the Obama administration, which claimed that the timing of the sanctions could upend the negotiations with Iran. However, the senator eventually withdrew his support for one of the bills, citing a desire to give the negotiators a chance to succeed.
Claire McCaskill (Mo.) @clairecmc
“The analysis I’m doing is pretty simple,” McCaskill said Tuesday. “It’s not a perfect deal, there’s a lot of things about this deal that are bad, but what is the new status quo if we walk away?” McCaskill came out with an early endorsement of presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has urged Congress to approve the Iran deal.
Jeff Merkley (Ore.) @SenJeffMerkley
“Today’s announcement is a significant milestone in the effort to preclude Iran from pursuing a nuclear weapon,” Merkley said on July 14. “I will be deeply engaged in examining the details in preparation for the upcoming review by Congress.” It is unlikely that Merkley, a strong progressive and advocate of peaceful resolutions to conflict, would oppose the deal.
Merkley supported the president by opposing the two controversial new rounds of sanctions that the administration was lobbying against. Moreover, as an undergraduate at Stanford University during the 1979 Iranian Revolution, he wrote his honors thesis about the U.S. role in propping up Iran’s unpopular shah. Merkley wrote in the paper that support for repressive leaders “has made America seem both hypocritical and imperialistic.”
Edward Markey (Mass.) @SenMarkey
“I commend Secretary Kerry, Secretary Moniz and the entire U.S. diplomatic team for their tireless and committed work at these historic negotiations,” Markey said the day the deal was announced. “We need to ensure that this agreement has the most invasive inspections possible, the most intensive enforcement provisions possible, including expedited ability to reinstate sanctions if Iran violates the agreement, and the most aggressive means to remove the technological capability for Iran to quickly make a nuclear weapon.”
Markey declined to back the two rounds of sanctions legislation opposed by the administration, and is unlikely to break with the White House on the nuclear deal.
Barbara Mikulski (Md.) @SenatorBarb
The retiring senator from Maryland has been noticeably quiet on the Iran deal, but is seen as likely to vote to uphold it. She abstained from both efforts to hit Iran with additional sanctions, and Ambassador Wendy Sherman — the lead U.S. negotiator for the nuclear talks with Iran — was once her chief of staff. Mikulski is planning to visit the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. agency charged with oversight of Iran’s nuclear program, during the August recess, and will likely make her announcement when she returns.
Patty Murray (Wash.) @PattyMurray
Murray has been quiet since the announcement of the nuclear deal, telling Politico it would be “a while” before she reaches a decision. But Murray declined to support both sanctions efforts, explaining to her constituents in 2014 that sanctions should be avoided to give the Obama administration time to negotiate a “strong, verifiable comprehensive agreement.”
Jack Reed (R.I.) @SenJackReed
“This agreement demonstrates the power of American-led diplomacy and establishes a strict and robust monitoring and verification system. If fully implemented, this deal will help control Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon,” Reed said the day the deal was announced.
Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.) @SenWhitehouse
“Whenever possible, I believe the U.S. should seek to advance our security goals through diplomacy rather than force. The President and his team, particularly Secretary Kerry, deserve tremendous credit for pursuing this diplomatic solution to one of our world’s most pressing security challenges,” Whitehouse said on July 14.
Of the Democrats who are undecided, Whitehouse was the only senator who skipped Netanyahu’s speech in March.
He told Politico on Tuesday that he will make a decision next week. “If I had to make a guesstimation, I would say there will be enough senators to sustain the president’s veto, and there’s a chance — just a chance — of keeping the number below 60,” Whitehouse said. “I wouldn’t say there’s a big chance, but there’s an outside chance.”
ON THE FENCE, BUT BEING LOBBIED HEAVILY (11)
Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) @SenBlumenthal
Blumenthal was an original co-sponsor of the two consecutive efforts to pass additional sanctions in the midst of negotiations. However, his July 14 reaction to the deal was neutral: “I welcome the announcement of an agreement with Iran after a long and difficult diplomatic road,” he said. “While our common hope may be that diplomacy has succeeded in barring an Iranian path to nuclear weapons capability, Congress must apply exacting standards and strict scrutiny, especially given Iran’s history of deceit and international law violations.”
Cory Booker (N.J.) @corybooker
Booker has yet to issue a statement and is currently juggling his loyalty to Obama and his ideological support of peace and diplomacy with pressure from pro-Israel lobbying groups, who gave Booker significant backing during the last election cycle. Earlier this year, Booker heeded the president’s call to resist voting for new sanctions.
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