October 21, 2021

The Hill’s Whip List: Obama has Senate votes to save Iran deal

hillwhipPresident Obama has enough support in the Senate to save his nuclear deal with Iran.

Thirty-four Democratic senators, including two independents who caucus with the party, now publicly support the deal. Sen. Barbara Mikulski helped clinch the diplomatic victory for Obama, announcing her support Wednesday.

Under legislation passed earlier this year, Congress has 60 days — until Sept. 17 — to vote on the deal, which places limits on Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for lifting sanctions. Congress is expected to take up a resolution of disapproval in September.
The president has vowed to veto any legislation that kills the deal. Obama would need 34 votes in the Senate to sustain the veto. Supporters of the accord are also hoping to find 40 senators to potentially filibuster the measure of disapproval.

Only two Democrats in the upper chamber, Sens. Charles Schumer (N.Y.) and Robert Menendez (N.J.), publicly oppose the Iran deal.

Here’s a list on how senators stand on the Iran deal. The Hill will update this list; please send updates to jcarney@thehill.com and mmali@thehill.com.

This list was last updated on Sept. 2 at 10:13 a.m.


Sen. Tammy Baldwin (Wis.) — “Simply put, I do not believe that rejecting this agreement is in our national security interest,” Baldwin said in a statement.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (Calif.) — “In my view, this agreement is the only way to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program is used exclusively for civilian purposes, which is in the best interest of the United States, Israel and the world,” Boxer said in a statement.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (Ohio) — “This deal is not about trusting the Iranian regime, but instead working with our allies on comprehensive, verifiable restrictions to block Iran’s pathways to a nuclear bomb without precipitating another war in the Middle East,” said Brown in a statement first reported by USA Today.

Sen. Tom Carper (Del.) — Carper said the deal “beats the likely alternative – war with Iran – hands down,” in an op-ed for the News Journal.

Sen. Bob Casey, Jr. (Pa.)

Sen. Chris Coons (Del.) — “We are better off trying diplomacy first,” Coons told the Washington Post.

Sen. Joe Donnelly (Ind.) — “I owe it to the men and women of our Armed Forces and to the people of Indiana to have exhausted every other option to stop Iran before we would consider putting any of our servicemembers in harm’s way,” Donnelly said in a statement.

Sen. Dick Durbin (Ill.) — “Finding a diplomatic solution will make our country, our allies and the world a safer place,” said the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.) — “I stand behind the U.S. negotiating team and will support this agreement in the Senate,” Feinstein, the ranking member of the Intelligence panel, said Tuesday.

Sen. Al Franken (Minn.) — “[T]o take the extraordinary step of rejecting it — because of clearly unrealistic expectations, because of a hunger to send Americans into another war, or, worst of all, because of petty partisanship — would be a terrible mistake,” said Franken in an op-ed for CNN.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) — “Our goal has been, and remains, to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. We have far more ability to achieve that outcome if we approve this deal‎,” said Gillibrand in a statement.

Sen. Martin Heinrich (N.M.) — “This deal sets the stage for a safer and more stable Middle East and a more secure United States of America,” said Heinrich.

Sen. Mazie Hirono (Hawaii) — Hirono said Iran’s nuclear program “will be disabled for many years” under the deal.

Sen. Tim Kaine (Va.) — Kaine called the deal a “dramatic improvement over the status quo.”

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) — “While the agreement is by no means perfect, I have concluded that it is our best available option to put the brakes on Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon and that is why I will support it,” said Klobuchar in a statement. “In conjunction with that support I will also push for increased security assistance to Israel and enhanced defense cooperation with our Arab allies to combat terrorism throughout the region.”

Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) — “The current alternatives, if this agreement is rejected, are either unrealistic or downright dangerous and so, based upon what we know now, I intend to vote in favor of the agreement,” King said.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (Vt.) — “I know from my conversations with the president and Secretary Kerry and Moniz how difficult this was. I also know from my conversations with them, they were prepared to walk away than settle for a bad deal. … This is not a bad deal,” said Leahy.

Sen. Ed Markey (Mass.) — I believe our negotiators achieved as much as they reasonably could, and that if strictly implemented, this plan can be effective,” he said in a statement.

Sen. Claire McCaskill (Mo.) — “This deal isn’t perfect and no one trusts Iran, but it has become clear to me that the world is united behind this agreement with the exception of the government of Israel,” she said in a statement. “I respect and understand those who oppose it but I have become convinced that it is more dangerous to Israel, America and our allies to walk away in the face of unified world-wide support.”

Sen. Jeff Merkley (Ore.) — “I believe the agreement, titled the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), is the best available strategy to block Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon,” he said in a statement.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski (Md.) — “No deal is perfect, especially one negotiated with the Iranian regime,” she said in a statement. “I have concluded that this Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is the best option available to block Iran from having a nuclear bomb. For these reasons, I will vote in favor of this deal.” Mikulski is also retiring from the Senate.

Sen. Chris Murphy (Conn.) — “The test for this agreement, then, is simple: is Iran less likely to obtain a nuclear weapon with this deal than without it? Because I answer this question affirmatively, I will support this agreement when it comes before the United States Senate for a vote in September,” Murphy said in a statement.

Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.) — “I am hopeful that this deal will be implemented and will move us closer to our goal of preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, but I will be monitoring it closely and will be ready to join others in moving quickly on other options if Iran choses to pursue an unacceptable path,” she said in a statement.

Sen. Bill Nelson (Fla.) — “If the U.S. walks away from this multinational agreement, I believe we would find ourselves alone in the world with little credibility,” said Nelson on the Senate floor.

Sen. Jack Reed (R.I.) — “No one assumes Iran will change its stripes, which is why the agreement is built on a foundation of intrusive inspections and constant verification,” said Reed, the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Sen. Harry Reid (Nev.) — “I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure the deal stands,” the Senate minority leader told The Washington Post.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) — “This agreement is obviously not all that many of us would have liked but it beats the alternative — a war with Iran that could go on for years,” said the 2016 contender for the Democratic nomination.

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) — “This is the best possible way to deny Iran from acquiring the bomb. It is what is best for the United States, Israel, and peace in the region.”

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.) — “Rejecting this agreement would leave us with no credible non-military options for stopping Iran’s nuclear weapons program,” said Shaheen in a statement.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) — “I have determined that the imminent threat of Iran having a nuclear weapon outweighs any flaws I see in the international agreement. For this reason, I must support the agreement,” Stabenow said in a statement.

Sen. Jon Tester (Mont.) — Tester called the deal “the only option right now,” according to Dennis Bragg, a reporter for local station KPAX.

Sen. Tom Udall (N.M.) — “I urge my colleagues to support this agreement,” Udall said in a floor speech. “We have a choice between this deal or no deal. I do not believe we will get another chance.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) — “The question now before Congress — the only question before Congress — is whether the recently announced nuclear agreement represents our best available option for preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon,” Warren told The Boston Globe. “I am convinced that it does.”

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.) — “Short of war, with all its dramatic uncertainties and terrible costs, I do not see another pathway to impose a nuclear weapons-free Iran,” said Whitehouse in a statement.


Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) — Manchin suggested he is in favor of the deal. “It would be a catastrophe to walk away,” Manchin said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”


Sen. Bob Menendez (N.J.) — “I have looked into my own soul and my devotion to principle may once again lead me to an unpopular course, but if Iran is to acquire a nuclear bomb, it will not have my name on it,” said Menendez, a senior member of the Foreign Relations Committee.

Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.) — “If Iran’s true intent is to get a nuclear weapon, under this agreement, it must simply exercise patience. After ten years, it can be very close to achieving that goal, and, unlike its current unsanctioned pursuit of a nuclear weapon, Iran’s nuclear program will be codified in an agreement signed by the United States and other nations,” Schumer, likely the next Democratic leader, said in a statement. Schumer’s opposition is a blow to the administration’s effort to win over Democrats.


Sen. Michael Bennet (Colo.) — “We will carefully scrutinize the terms of this agreement. The stakes are high and the details of this deal matter,” he said. Bennet could face a tough reelection challenge in 2016.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) — Blumenthal is one of four undecided Dems running for reelection. “I’ve raised issues with the administration. I’m awaiting responses, and they could be determinative,” he told The New York Times.

Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.) — “I’m going to make what I believe is the best decision for the safety and security of our nation,” he told the Star-Ledger in an interview on Aug. 14. “This is too important a decision to be made by external pressures.” Rev. Al Sharpton, a supporter of the deal, says he has reached out to Booker and other Democrats.

Sen. Maria Cantwell (Wash.)

Sen. Ben Cardin (Md.) — “Negotiators have spent painstaking time and untold effort working on this accord,” said the top Democrat on the Foreign Affairs Committee. “Congress in turn must fulfill its oversight responsibilities and conduct a thorough, rigorous, and evenhanded review.”

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.)

Sen. Gary Peters (Mich.) — “I will be reviewing the agreement in great detail to ensure that it includes the dismemberment of Iran’s nuclear weapons-related infrastructure, full disclosure from Iran on nuclear activities, and enhanced oversight and inspections of Iranian facilities, as well as reinstatement of sanctions if Iran backs out of the deal,” said Peters in a statement.

Sen. Mark Warner (Va.) — Warner is reviewing the deal with “the utmost attention to detail.”

Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.) — “I said all along I was skeptical that Iran’s leaders would agree to dismantle their nuclear weapons program and I have questions about whether this agreement accomplishes that, particularly in light of Iran’s history on this issue,” Wyden said in a statement. “However, I will use my seat on the Senate Intelligence Committee to thoroughly review the details.”


Sen. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) — “I will vote to disapprove the president’s nuclear agreement with Iran because it does not sufficiently restrict Iran’s nuclear program and makes no effort to put a brake on its other conduct as the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism,” he said in a statement.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.) — “We need to require them to dismantle their program. … What we will have here is more proliferation in the Middle East,” she tweeted.

Sen. Roy Blunt (Mo.) — “This is a bad deal for the United States and one that will embolden our adversaries and jeopardize the security of our allies,” Blunt said in a statement. “The stated goal of the negotiations was to ensure Iran never develops the capability to produce a nuclear weapon, yet the president agreed to a deal that does the opposite.”

Sen. John Boozman (Ark.) — “We have a responsibility to ensure that Iran never achieves its goal of becoming a nuclear power. This deal give us little confidence that we will be successful in this regard,” said Boozman.

Sen. Richard Burr (N.C.) — “I will not support this agreement and, as the Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, I will continue my efforts to ensure that we fully understand Iran’s capabilities and intentions,” said Burr.

Sen. Bill Cassidy (La.) — “This deal won’t just jeopardize our security, but it will also hurt our economy. It would allow Iran to export oil but we can’t,” Cassidy told the Shreveport Times, explaining his opposition.

Sen. Dan Coats (Ind.) — “Congress should reject this bad deal,” said Coats in a statement.

Sen. Bob Corker (Tenn.) — “Congress should reject this deal and send it back to the president,” said the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee in a Washington Post op-ed.

Sen. John Cornyn (Texas) — “The alternative to this deal is a better deal,” Cornyn told reporters on a conference call earlier this month. “This deal is not a good deal in my view.”

Sen. Tom Cotton (Ark.) — Cotton called the deal a “terrible, dangerous mistake” in an appearance on “Morning Joe” and vowed senators would kill the agreement.

Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas) — The 2016 presidential candidate called it a “staggeringly bad deal.” “It is a fundamental betrayal of the security of the United States and of our closest allies, first and foremost Israel,” he said.

Sen. Steve Daines (Mont.) — “Congress should vote down the deal and uphold our commitment to our national security and send a clear message that we cannot consider a deal that is so lacking in transparency and accountability,” said Daines in an op-ed for the Helena Independent Record.

Sen. Joni Ernst (Iowa) — “This to me is a pathway to nuclear armament for Iran,” Ernst told CNN when asked why she opposed the deal. “This deal does not stop them from developing nuclear capabilities.”

Sen. Jeff Flake (Ariz.) — Flake has been an ally of the administration on its Cuba policy and was lobbied by the White House to back the Iran deal.

Sen. Deb Fischer (Neb.) — “While the president argued that we ‘give nothing up’ by ‘testing’ whether this agreement will constrain Iran’s nuclear ambitions, I disagree,” Fischer said in a statement. “The international sanctions regime took years to assemble and remains the most effective method of imposing costs on Tehran for their destabilizing behavior.”

Sen. Cory Gardner (Colo.) — “Deal lifts the arms embargo against Iran, the world’s largest state sponsor of terror. And the more detail we learn, the worse it seems,” Gardner tweeted.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) — “The deal is far worse than I ever dreamed it could be and will be a nightmare for the region, our national security and eventually the world at large,” the 2016 contender told Bloomberg News.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (Iowa) — “I’ve always been skeptical about an agreement with Iran that fails to fully dismantle its nuclear program. This is a country that sponsors terrorism and has a history of hiding its nuclear program from outside inspectors.”

Sen. John Hoeven (N.D.) — “All along I’ve believed our best chance to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon is strong sanctions until they absolutely agree to give up their nuclear program with anywhere, anytime inspections,” Hoeven told the Grand Forks Herald.

Sen. James Inhofe (Okla.) — “I do not trust Iran who has been the leading state sponsor of terrorism for generations, and I have no faith that President Obama’s deal will change the irrational and dangerous behaviors of Iran’s government leaders,” according to a statement.

Sen. Johnny Isakson (Ga.) — “I have said from day one that I will not be part of any agreement that allows the Iranians to develop a nuclear weapon,” Isakson said in a statement.

Sen. Ron Johnson (Wis.) — “I will vote to disapprove this awful and dangerous agreement,” he said in a statement.

Sen. Mark Kirk (Ill.) — “If Congress doesn’t stop this bad deal, the American people will be left with a nuclear Iran and a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. Congress can and should insist on a better deal,” said Kirk in a Chicago Tribune op-ed. Kirk is a top Democratic target in 2016.

Sen. James Lankford (Okla.) — “This is a bad deal for America and I have decide [sic] to vote against it and do whatever I can to defeat this agreement,” said Lankford in a statement on his Facebook page.

Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) — McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the upper chamber would have the 60 votes to vote down the deal.

Sen. Mitch McConnell (Ky.) — “The comprehensive nuclear agreement announced today appears to further the flawed elements of April’s interim agreement because the Obama administration approached these talks from a flawed perspective: reaching the best deal acceptable to Iran, rather than actually advancing our national goal of ending Iran’s nuclear program,” said the majority leader.

Sen. Jerry Moran (Kan.) — “My best guess is that Congress, by a majority vote, will reject this agreement,” Moran said at a town hall, according to the Topeka Capital-Journal. “I will vote that way. I think this agreement is horrific.”

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) — “Iran got the most out of this negotiation and gave the least. Iran’s strategy of nuclear extortion has not been disabled. To the contrary, it has been rewarded,” she said in a statement.

Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) — “The proposed agreement with Iran is unacceptable and I will vote against the agreement,” the 2016 contender tweeted.

Sen. David Perdue (Ga.) — “This deal won’t prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear weapons state — it just delays it,” said Perdue on July 23. “As I’ve said all along, I cannot support any deal that allows Iran to become a nuclear weapons state. Not now, not in 10 years, not ever.”

Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio) — “The agreement falls far short of our own stated goals and that of the international community,” said Portman in a statement first reported by The Columbus Dispatch. “This is another example of another red-line the Administration has drawn but failed to honor.”

Sen. Jim Risch (Idaho) — “This deal falls disastrously short of what the Obama Administration originally promised and gives the Iranian government what it desires,” Risch said in a statement. “The West will have to live with a nuclear Iran and will abandon our closest ally, Israel, under this horribly flawed agreement.”

Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) — “I expect that a significant majority in Congress will share my skepticism of this agreement and vote it down,” said the 2016 contender.

Sen. Ben Sasse (Neb.) — “Sadly, the Administration just lit the fuse for a nuclear arms race in the Middle East,” Sasse said in a statement. “We all know Iran’s neighbors will not sit idly as the world’s largest state-sponsor of terror becomes a nuclear-threshold state.”

Sen. Tim Scott (S.C.) — “It’s hard to make a good deal with bad actors, and this #IranDeal leads us down a dangerous path,” Scott tweeted.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (Ala.)

Sen. Richard Shelby (Ala.) — “Well I think it’s a disaster,” Shelby told Alabama TV station WVTM. “Ultimately it was a bad deal. … If Putin’s for it, why would we be for it?”

Sen. Dan Sullivan (Alaska) — “Principal objective of Iran negotiations was to keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. This #IranDeal does NOT do that,” he tweeted.

Sen. John Thune (S.D.) — “A nuclear armed Iran is a threat to the United States, and an agreement that allows Iran to retain all the components necessary to build a nuclear bomb is not a good deal for America and should be rejected,” he said in a statement.

Sen. Thom Tillis (N.C.) — The freshman senator tweeted his concerns: “Democrats & Republicans share grave concerns over the bad #IranDeal & Congress has a responsibility to do everything it can to stop it.”

Sen. Pat Toomey (Pa.) — “This deal would give Iran the capacity to inflict harm in much more destructive ways. I will do everything I can to defeat this deal, and I encourage everyone to do the same,” Toomey wrote in an op-ed.

Sen. David Vitter (La.) — Vitter tweeted, “I think this #Iran agreement is a really, really bad deal for America, for Israel, and for freedom.”

Sen. Roger Wicker (Miss.) — Wicker said he would vote against the deal because he didn’t trust Iran’s leaders to keep up their end according to Mississippi station WAPT. “When you’re dealing with somebody, you consider the past conduct of who you’re negotiating with … the people in charge of Iran have shown no indication that they’re trustworthy,” he said.


Sen. John Barrasso (Wyo.) — Barrasso pledged “a robust debate to make sure this deal is centered on protecting Americans — not the president’s legacy.”

Sen. Thad Cochran (Miss.) — In a statement, he said he would look closely at the deal, but is “skeptical whether the agreement reached by the Obama administration is truly verifiable and enforceable.”

Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) — “While I will withhold judgment until more details are provided by the Administration, the answers to these and other serious concerns will determine whether or not I can support the final agreement,” she said in a statement.

Sen. Mike Crapo (Idaho) — “U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo’s spokesman criticized the Obama administration’s deal with Iran this morning, saying it both lets Iran build a nuclear weapon and doesn’t do anything to help Iranian-American pastor and former Boise resident Saeed Abedini, who has been imprisoned in Iran since 2012,” according to Magicvalley.com.

Sen. Mike Enzi (Wyo.) — Enzi was one of 47 GOP senators to sign a letter to Iran’s leaders threatening to void a nuclear deal in March.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah) — “Any deal that removes sanctions without robust means of ensuring the regime’s disarmament and compliance with its international obligations is worse than no deal at all,” said Hatch.

Sen. Dean Heller (Nev.) — “For more than three decades, America has stood up against Iran and implemented sanctions enacted by Congress to prevent them from further developing a nuclear weapon,” said Heller. He called for Congress to “act decisively in the review process.”

Sen. Mike Lee (Utah) — Lee said he is concerned “the immediate sanctions relief provided by this deal will only increase Iran’s ability to finance its terrorist proxies.”

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.) — “Any agreement that risks the security of America and our allies will not advance our goal of ending Iran’s nuclear program and is worse than no deal at all,” she said in a statement.

Sen. Pat Roberts (Kan.) — “It’s imperative that Congress cautiously reviews this deal and ensures that it holds the Iranians accountable so that the world doesn’t become an even more dangerous place for the U.S. and our allies,” Roberts said in a statement. “That’s the standard by which I will judge the agreement when all of the details are submitted to Congress.”

Sen. Mike Rounds (S.D.) — “I’ve said all along that anything short of stopping the Iranians from ever obtaining a nuclear weapon is unacceptable, said Rounds in a statement. He added that so far “it appears this deal not only fails to meet this essential goal, it emboldens the Iranians.”

Source: The Hill