Posted by Anna Toth on August 17, 2015 in Blog
While September 17th will be just another day for many of us, for our President, members of the international community, and members of our Congress it is the fast-approaching day of reckoning on the Iran nuclear deal which was negotiated last month by the P5+1 and Iran. The Obama administration has defended this deal against critics from both sides of the aisle, claiming that during negotiations, “the United States refused to take a bad deal, pressing for a deal that met every single one of our bottom lines. That’s exactly what we got.”
While the White House has been more than clear that they believe that this is indeed a “good deal,” that will cut off all of Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon, others aren’t so sure—namely, House Republicans. When September 17th comes, Congress will have the opportunity to pass a resolution of approval, disapproval, or do nothing. President Obama has vowed that if it comes to a resolution of disapproval, he will use his veto power. And while the upper chamber Republicans appear to have secured enough votes to pass a bill of disapproval, it is unclear if they have enough to have a veto-proof majority for the bill if and when it comes to that.
That is why the 60-day review period leading up to the vote is crucial to both parties as they continue their lobbying efforts to convert those who are on the fence about the Iran deal. The focus isn’t necessarily on whether or not the resolution of disapproval will pass, but whether or not the White House can muster enough votes to support the inevitable veto against the dissenting bill. The administration needs one-third of either chamber’s support to ensure that the veto will not be overturned. While the Democrats in the House will likely vote within their caucus, under the leadership of Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the Senate Democrats are a little more elusive about which way they are leaning.
This is where the speculation happens. As we understand it now, 19 of the 44 Democratic Senators have come out as proponents of the deal, including Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), who stated that “this agreement is, in my opinion, the most effective, realistic way to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon anytime in the next 15 years.” Even with Franken’s support, twenty-four votes are still needed in favor of the veto. Twenty-nine Republicans and one lone Democrat (Senator Chuck Schumer [D-NY]) are vehemently and vocally denouncing the deal from all angles. Sen. Tom Cotton (R- AK) has been one of the most outspoken opponents of the deal calling it a “terrible, dangerous mistake.” Sen. Schumer’s disapproval of the deal was a blow to the administration as he is likely to be the next minority leader, and his straying from party alliances has caused slight panic among Democrats. The question that all the undecided or wavering legislators face, simply put, is whether or not they believe this is a “good deal”?
Anna Toth is an intern with the Arab American Institute