October 19, 2021

Democrats block bill opposing Iran deal

images-111Senate Democrats on Thursday managed to block a resolution disapproving of the Iran nuclear deal, sparing Obama from having to use his veto pen to keep the controversial accord alive.

Democrats filibustered the measure after they were able to unify their members, despite mounting pressure from Republicans who warned against cutting off debate and a final vote on such a critical matter. Sixty votes were needed to advance the resolution, but 42 Democrats voted against it, so it failed.

Critical to the Democratic filibuster was Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., who said he supported the deal but wavered on whether to filibuster because he believes the Senate should debate and hold a final vote.

Coons ultimately sided with Democrats to block the resolution, but then called on Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to allow more debate and a final vote on the measure, “to let the American people know where each of us stands.”

Immediately after the vote, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., criticized Democrats for preventing a final vote on the resolution, and said the Senate would try again next week to advance the resolution. But it’s unclear what will change over the next week.

For now, the Democratic filibuster essentially blocks further debate and ends any legislative option to stop the nuclear deal, which was under a congressional review period that expires on Sept. 17.

The House is scheduled to reject a resolution to approve the deal on Friday. As of Thursday, there was no firm plan by the House and Senate to pass identical measures, which means no congressional measure will reach Obama’s desk, leaving him free to implement the deal.

Republicans had at least hoped to send a resolution of disapproval to Obama, sending a strong message of opposition from Congress and forcing him to veto it.

But under intense lobbying from the White House, most Senate Democrats agreed to back the accord, even as many of them expressed deep misgivings about the deal.

“While this deal is far from perfect, I believe it is the best option available for us right now for preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” said Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., “We’ll have significantly more information about Iran’s nuclear program with this deal than without it.”

Four Senate Democrats opposed the nuclear deal, including Bob Menendez, D-N.J., the former ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

An hour before the vote, Menendez outlined his opposition to the deal, noting that he typically votes for President Obama’s legislative initiatives. But he said the nuclear deal proposed by Obama does not eliminate Iran’s ability to build a nuclear bomb.

“Not even one centrifuge will be destroyed under this agreement,” Menendez said.

He called for Obama to re-open negotiations using sanction relief as an incentive and called for tougher terms, including lengthening from ten years to 20 years the time Iran must agree to reduce its nuclear program.

Source: Washington Examiner