The Iran Nuclear Deal Debate Is Basically Over

President Obama now has enough votes in the Senate, and probably the House, to ensure that Congress cannot block the nuclear deal with Iran.

Iran Nuclear Deal Congress

President Obama has secured enough support in the Senate to block a Republican effort to kill the Iran Nuclear Deal, and may gain enough support to block the Senate from voting on the matter at all:

WASHINGTON — Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland on Wednesday came out in support of President Obama’s Iran nuclear accord, the 34th Democrat in favor. Her decision gives Mr. Obama the votes needed to assure the deal will survive a congressional challenge.

“Some have suggested we reject this deal and impose unilateral sanctions to force Iran back to the table. But maintaining or stepping up sanctions will only work if the sanction coalition holds together,” Ms. Mikulski, the longest serving female senator in history, said in a statement.

“It’s unclear if the European Union, Russia, China, India and others would continue sanctions if Congress rejects this deal. At best, sanctions would be porous, or limited to unilateral sanctions by the U.S.”

Ms. Mikulski’s decision came a day after Senators Chris Coons of Delaware and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania also announced they would support the deal. With 34 senators favoring the accord between Iran and six world powers limiting the country’s nuclear program, opponents may still be able to pass a resolution disapproving the deal later this month, but they do not have the votes to override Mr. Obama’s promised veto.

And with momentum on their side, the White House and Senate Democrats next week hope to find seven more votes to filibuster the Republican resolution of disapproval. That would ensure the resolution would never leave the Senate, and Mr. Obama would not be forced to use a veto.

Despite the continuing rancor on Capitol Hill, there was also growing recognition, even among some accord opponents, that the other nations — Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia, and especially Iran — would be unwilling to renegotiate the agreement even if Congress formally rejected it.

In most cases, support for the deal has not been enthusiastic, as lawmakers have confronted one of the most divisive policy debates of modern times, with the security of Israel and the stability of the Middle East potentially at stake. But enough Democrats have come to the conclusion that killing the accord would be far worse than approving it.

 

When Senators Coons and Casey announced yesterday that they were supporting the deal, it was inevitable that we would reach the point that we’re at now, the only question was which Senator would be the one to put the President over the top. Since Mikulski is not running for re-election, she is among those Senators who is safe from worrying about electoral repercussions from her vote, or from the inevitable negative campaigning that would have come if she for re-election in 2016. Of course, being from Maryland it’s unlikely that she would have lost re-election because of this vote anyway, but the fact she’s the vote that put the President over the top in the Senate means that the remaining eight Democrats who have not announced their position on the deal will not have to worry about being labeled as the person who provided the President with the winning vote. This likely won’t matter for many of the Senators in question, but to the extent that it takes the pressure off of them it may make it easier for them to announce their support for the deal. Alternatively, of course, the fact that the deal is now certain to survive Congressional efforts to block it may mean that a few of these Senators will feel free to vote against the President, or may even be freed by the White House to do so in order to protect their own political futures.

With Senate support sufficient to stop a veto override in place, the question now will become whether Democrats will have enough votes to filibuster the initial Disapproval Resolution, thus preventing a Senate vote before the expiration of the 60 day review period. With 34 confirmed votes, and possibly as many as 36 votes if Senators Blumenthal and Manchin end up supporting the deal as they have hinted in the past, Democrats need seven of the remaining nine undecided Democrats to vote for cloture. Even if all or most of these Senators end up supporting the deal, it’s not guaranteed that they’ll support a filibuster. Delaware Senator Chris Coons, for example, has said that he would prefer to see the Senate have an up-or-down vote on the bill even though he supports the deal. If even just a handful of other Democrats feel the same way, then they might vote with the GOP to allow the resolution to pass cloture and proceed to a final vote.

However the vote counting turns out on Capitol Hill goes, though, the result is the same. The deal will go forward, starting with the end of certain sanctions against Tehran and the beginnings of the inspection regime. As Paul Waldmn notes today, if it turns out that the deal fails then many of the Democrats who supported the deal today could end up paying a political price for that support not dissimilar to the price that many Congressmen and Senators paid for the vote in support of the Iraq War. Republicans, on the other hand, are not likely to face many consequences for their opposition if the deal succeeds. In the near future, the focus of Iran policy is going to turn toward the question of whether or not they are complying with the agreement, at that point where people stood on the deal back in September of 2015 isn’t likely ot matter to voters very much. Additionally, there’s not likely to be much of an upside for supporting the deal if it does succeed, and it’s unlikely to cause Republicans or others opposed to the deal to change their mind. Indeed, some analysts have argued that this deal has the potential to make war with Iran more likely because a violation, real or perceived, would provide a future President and Congress with the legal justification they need for military action, something that is completely lacking at this time.

In any event, those are all concerns for the future. In the here and now, the deal will pass some time in the next two to three weeks and then we’ll just have to see if it works.

FILED UNDER: Barack Obama, Campaign 2016, Congress, National Security, Politicians, US Politics, , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Scott says:

    I think it would be a great mistake for supporters of the Iran deal (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) to now just cruise along. They need to keep up on the stump selling the benefits of this plan. Even after it is a done deal. Already the supporters are total weasels about it (it could be better/improved, etc). Because you can be sure the opponents won’t let up even after the JCPOA goes into effect.

  2. Tony W says:

    Not bad for a lame duck.

  3. michael reynolds says:

    Another stupid waste of everyone’s time courtesy of the Senate GOP and that twat Chuck Schumer. (Although I love his cousin Amy.)

  4. C. Clavin says:

    The only debate left to have is how outstanding this Presidency has been.
    Bringing the economy back from the brink of the death spiral Republicans left it in.
    The Dodd-Frank bill that is tremendously under-rated.
    Substantial reform of the student loan system.
    Historic Health Care Reform that is working.
    Crisis after crisis that simply weren’t…ISIS, Ebola, Benghazi, the IRS, Putin.
    Stupid pointless losses cut in Iraq and Afghanistan.
    Strongest environmental legacy of any President…without passing a single piece of legislation.
    The New START arms treaty.
    Normalizing 50 years of completely retarded policy towards Cuba.
    And now a historic nuclear arms agreement that does as much to advance our security as Bush and Cheney did to degrade it.
    And he still has 16 or so months left.
    Your ODS must be ailing badly today, Doug.

  5. C. Clavin says:

    @michael reynolds:
    Schumer must not be allowed to become Senate Minority Leader.

  6. Scott F. says:

    The Iran Nuclear Deal Debate Is Basically Over

    Ha! Just like Chamberlain thought the Munich Agreement debate was over once its terms were settled. Rest assured – the neocon warmongers will continue to debate the Iran Nuclear Deal every time Iran as much as blows its nose for the next couple of decades.

    if it turns out that the deal fails then many of the Democrats who supported the deal today could end up paying a political price for that support not dissimilar to the price that many Congressmen and Senators paid for the vote in support of the Iraq War. Republicans, on the other hand, are not likely to face many consequences for their opposition if the deal succeeds.

    It’s funny how it always seems to work out that way. The ones who get the foreign policy call right are never given their due and the ones who continue to be wrong never are discredited. Must be nice to have that kind of set-up.

  7. michael reynolds says:

    @C. Clavin:
    I agree. Patty Murray’s my candidate for that.

  8. JohnMcC says:

    @michael reynolds: @C. Clavin: Neither you nor I knows Sen Schumer’s constituency as well as he does. And I have not seen any indication that he is whipping in opposition to the Accord. We do not know how he’d have voted if the Accord was going to stand or fall based on his vote alone. I’m inclined to give him a pass.

  9. stonetools says:

    The good thing about this development is that the Democrat’s cowering on national security appears to be over. From Waldman’s article:

    f you’re too young to remember the time before the Iraq War turned into a disaster, you may not realize the state of constant fear Democrats used to live in when it came to national security. Particularly since Ronald Reagan’s presidency, Republicans were always ready to ridicule them as being “soft” — soft on defense, soft on the communists, soft on anything involving foreign threats. After 9/11, this attack went into a higher gear, as did Democrats’ fear that any show of softness would instantly be met with, “Why are you on the terrorists’ side?” and “Why don’t you support our troops?”

    These days, it looks like the Democrats are finally willing to say , “Eff it, we will not be bullied into supporting dumb wars any longer.” Of course, there will be more wars, because this is something the US might have to do. But the wars will be have to be justified to the Democrats on logic and evidence, not on BS about being “soft on defense.”

  10. C. Clavin says:

    @JohnMcC:
    On a matter of this import he should be voting what is right…not what he thinks his constituency wants.
    And when he made his stand, very publicly, he didn’t know what the outcome would ultimately be.
    He’s trying to have have it both ways and I don’t consider that to be Leadership.

  11. Tyrell says:

    The leaders of Iran have been making recent statements that they will not allow anyone but their own inspectors in, and these are moderate leaders I have also learned that nut job president Ahmadinejad (should never have been allowed in US) that they used to have plans to run again. He was elected in rigged, phony elections. He has repeatedly threatened Israel and the US. He is the last person that needs to be running anything. There is information that he was involved in the hostage crisis .
    “It’s never over til its over” (Berra)
    “You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em” (Rogers)
    “Ayatollah Assahola !”

  12. Scott F. says:

    1. The Iran Nuclear Deal “debate” isn’t basically over, because the neocons will continue to re-open the “debate” every time Iran does anything on the world stage that isn’t directly in America’s interest for decades to come. Plus, as Paul Waldman notes, there will never be a time – even 20 years into the future – where proponents of the deal can say it concluded with Iran not having a bomb. Netanyahu has been saying Iran was 3 months from a bomb for years now and he’ll insist he’s still not wrong.

    2. As Doug points out (via Waldman) “if it turns out that the deal fails then many of the Democrats who supported the deal today could end up paying a political price for that support not dissimilar to the price that many Congressmen and Senators paid for the vote in support of the Iraq War. Republicans, on the other hand, are not likely to face many consequences for their opposition if the deal succeeds.” Isn’t that a neat trick? You can be perpetually wrong and never lose your credibility, as long as you’re calling for war.

  13. grumpy realist says:

    @Tyrell: So you think that Ahmadinejad’s any worst than the shambles of Republican goons running for POTUS that are threatening to declare war on Iran the day they are inaugurated?

    But I guess it’s ok when it’s OUR guys threatening to turn somewhere else into nuked glass, right?

    (And based on Republican theories of self-defense, why shouldn’t Iran carry out preemptive strikes against the US, hmmm?)

  14. Hal_10000 says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Several trillion dollars in additional debt and still a long term debt problem.
    We are still in Iraq and Afghanistan.
    ISIS isn’t a problem? That’s news to the Middle East. Putin isn’t a crisis? Tell that to the Ukraine or the Baltics.
    Further erosion of civil liberties via NSA spying.
    Assassinating American citizens without trial.
    Rising health insurance rates
    A Dodd-Frank bill that has crippled IPO’s and led to further concentration of banking into the Big Six banks. Overall, the system is more vulnerable than it was.
    An explosion of student debt to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars.

    Yes, Obama has accomplished some things. But it’s not all flowers and roses. And I don’t think we’ll really know the legacy of this stuff for many years.

  15. Hal_10000 says:

    As for the Iran deal, it was always going to be fine. The Democrats knew the deal was fine (and frankly, so did most of the Republicans). They just had to figure out who would get to grandstand. This is classical political maneuvering to pass something that’s controversial or unpopular — you figure out who has safe seats and have them vote for it. They did the same thing with the bailout.

  16. wr says:

    @Hal_10000: Wow, there pretty much isn’t anything you won’t believe as long as it comes from a Republican, is there?

  17. Tillman says:

    @Hal_10000:

    Rising health insurance rates

    Remember the time before rising health insurance rates? 🙂

  18. Grumpy Realist says:

    @Hal_10000: at least some of us can now HAVE health insurance (cough existing conditions cough). Or those of us who have run up against the $1m limit insurance companies had decided was their cut-off.

    I suggest you google the term “murder by spreadsheet.”

  19. Tyrell says:

    @Grumpy Realist: yes, but a lot still can’t have insurance. The rates are too high, yet they can’t get a subsidy. I know this plan has helped a lot of people, but a lot have been shut out like it was late innings against the Dodgers pitchers. The trouble is the president and congress cranked this plan up, but have done little to tune, improve, adjust, and polish it . And what happened to all of those young, healthy, working people who were going to join and bring the costs down ?
    Why is it that people can only sign up for health insurance during a certain time frame ? What’s going on with that ?
    This should have been a plan where people who needed insurance could have got it through medicare.
    The president is too busy renaming a mountain, defaming a US president – who was assassinated.
    What’s the deal there ?

  20. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Grumpy Realist: Your health insurance had a million dollar limit? The last company that provided insurance at a job I worked at had a $100,000 lifetime benefits cap.

    Now it was the best insurance policy that the company could buy for a $215/mo premium (this was in 2005) and it paid for the things that I needed (with a $50/visit copay). But yours sounds much better to me. You just need to make sure you don’t get cancer or AIDS.

  21. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Tyrell:

    The rates are too high, yet they can’t get a subsidy.

    Yeah! What’s up with Republicans refusing to expand Medicaid???

    Wait a minute, that’s not the point you wanted to make, is it?

  22. gVOR08 says:

    @Hal_10000:

    But it’s not all flowers and roses.

    It never is. But on balance don’t you have to admit Obama’s done pretty good? If you take into account the hand he was dealt and the mindless Republican opposition he’s had to face, isn’t it actually pretty amazing?

  23. J-Dub says:

    @Tyrell:

    The trouble is the president and congress cranked this plan up, but have done little to tune, improve, adjust, and polish it

    Yeah, because Congress was so helpful on that front.

  24. Scott says:

    @Tyrell:

    This should have been a plan where people who needed insurance could have got it through medicare.

    This is called single payer insurance. You need to write your representative and senators and say you want single payer.

  25. Tillman says:

    @C. Clavin: I mean, I agree in general, but I’d rather not deify Obama the way Republicans deified Reagan.

    Now FDR, that moonshine-swilling, court-packing, blue-blood, shit-husband cripple…mmmaybe.

  26. C. Clavin says:

    @Hal_10000:
    Rising debt due mostly to obligations left by Republicans.
    Yes Insurance rates are rising…far slower than before.
    No ones perfect. I’m not gonna make him a god like Republicans have with Ronnie…but he has done a great job in the face of a tremendously shitty hand dealt to him and constant reflexive opposition from Republicans.
    And if you cannot admit that…Hal…then your ideology is blinding you.

  27. michael reynolds says:

    @JohnMcC:

    We’ve all seen the polls showing that American Jews favored the deal. Schumer’s “constituency” were Likud and the Settler movement, not to mention AIPAC’s checkbook.

    On a crucial issue he was loyal to a foreign political party and disloyal to his own party, to his president and to his country. The DSCC certainly won’t see a dollar from me until he’s out of the leadership race. He’s no longer fit to be a senator let alone a party leader.

  28. stonetools says:

    @Tillman:

    It’s not deification to say that Obama has done a remarkably good job, given the hand he was dealt and the massive resistance of a Republican Party which gave up even the pretense of trying to be a responsible opposition party. I think a very sober analysis of the Obama presidency would put him somewhere in the top third of American Presidencies, and maybe even in the Top Ten. Let’s give him no more credit than he deserves, but all the credit he deserves.
    That said, any liberal (including me) would have a whole list of things he might have done differently, although I’m not sure my list would have resulted in a much better result.

  29. cian says:

    The leaders of Iran have been making recent statements that they will not allow anyone but their own inspectors in,

    If they don’t let independent inspectors in then the agreement has been broken and all bets are off. That’s how the deal works.

  30. Kylopod says:

    @Tillman:

    I mean, I agree in general, but I’d rather not deify Obama the way Republicans deified Reagan.

    Republicans, from what I’ve seen, do not “deify Reagan” by making long lists of his policy achievements. In fact, I have my doubts the average Republican could list more than a few of his policies, especially without running aground of things most Republicans today reject (e.g. raising taxes, amnesty, holding talks with an enemy power, etc.).

    If there’s any Democratic equivalent to Reagan worship, it’s the attitude toward JFK, which is far more symbolism than substance. Still, JFK hasn’t in any way come to occupy center stage in the liberal imagination, the way Reagan has for conservatives; Democratic politicians aren’t constantly invoking his name, asking “What would Kennedy do?” or talking about his 11th commandment or proposing that he be carved into Mt. Rushmore.

    Part of it, I believe, is that Democrats have a lot more past presidents to admire: FDR, Truman, and even LBJ and Clinton to some extent, despite their many flaws from a liberal perspective.

    Who do Republicans have? Lincoln? Every now and then Republicans invoke his name to ward off charges of racism, then when everyone’s head is turned they throw him back in his coffin and take out their Confederate Flag from the trunk.

    Teddy Roosevelt? Just about the only modern Republican who has spoken admiringly of him is John McCain. Virtually everyone else in the party hates him because he was a “Progressive.”

    Eisenhower? He isn’t talked about much, and anyway, he’s too moderate for today’s GOP.

    Nixon? He has a few apologists today who used to work for him–Ben Stein, Pat Buchanan–but listening to most GOPers, you almost get the feeling Nixon’s “liberalism” was a worse sin than Watergate.

    The Bushes? Obviously Pappy Bush has long been rejected wholesale by the party for his heresy on taxes, but despite the way most conservatives talk today about W., there was a time in about the mid-2000s when many on the right virtually worshipped him, sometimes literally so. They’ve been trying to scrub that record clean since he left office.

    The point here isn’t that the GOP is unique in deifying a US president. A lot of US presidents are “deified” to one extent or another. But Dems do generally seem a bit closer to earth when evaluating their favorite presidents. No Dem has forgotten about FDR’s internment of Japanese-Americans, and their nostalgia for LBJ’s legislative prowess is tempered by memories of Vietnam. There isn’t any true equivalent to Reagan worship among the Dems, because when you’ve got your fair share of heroes, you have less of a need for demigods.

  31. C. Clavin says:

    @stonetools:
    Yeah….I would prefer single payer….Medicare for all….but that doesn’t change the fact that Obama got Health care done when 50 years of Presidents from both sides couldn’t.

  32. gVOR08 says:

    @C. Clavin: A hundred years. National health insurance was a plank in the Progressive Party platform TR ran on as a Bull Moose.

    Your point is well taken. However flawed, passing Obamacare is a huge accomplishment. If we ever get a functioning Congress again, it can be improved. So if you want it improved, @Tyrell: , vote for Democrats.

  33. al-Ameda says:

    @Tyrell:

    @Grumpy Realist: yes, but a lot still can’t have insurance. The rates are too high, yet they can’t get a subsidy. I know this plan has helped a lot of people, but a lot have been shut out like it was late innings against the Dodgers pitchers.

    Some people are so disingenuous in their criticisms of ACA and healthcare costs, acting as if – no wait, pretending as if – we had no healthcare cost inflation until ACA was passed. Well I’m calling bulls*** on that.

    Where were these critics during the period from about 1995 to 2010, when health insurance premium costs to employer group plans were increasing at an annual rate over 3 to 4 times the rate of inflation?

    I know a lot about people and businesses being priced out of purchasing health insurance policies, because for about 20 years, in my role as a finance officer, an important part of my responsibilities was management of my organization’s benefit plan contracts.

    For nearly 15 years annual notifications of increases in group plan premium costs ranged from 9% all the way up to 22%. And (I) we did everything we reasonably possible to mitigate the costs and potential burden to our employees – we managed deductible amounts, offered HSA-based plans, and so forth. It’s been a real problem in America for a long time. Pricing, payment reform, and cost transparency are issues that now, finally, beginning to be addressed.

  34. Tillman says:

    @Kylopod: To me, the issue was the post listing his accomplishments seemed unbidden, which is the kind of behavior I associate with zealotry. You know, like a Christian inserting God into every conversation.