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Senate Democrats Have Enough Support For Iran Nuclear Deal To Squelch Opposition

With three more Democratic Senators backing the Iran accord, President Obama is heading towards a big foreign policy victory.
Carolyn Kaster
With three more Democratic Senators backing the Iran accord, President Obama is heading towards a big foreign policy victory.

Senate Democrats are on the verge of delivering a big win to President Obama on the nuclear agreement between the U.S., Iran and five other world powers.

With three more Democrats announcing Tuesday they were backing the accord, it gave supporters enough votes to prevent the passage of a disapproval resolution. Any such resolution would sink the White House-backed nuclear deal that lifts sanctions on Tehran in exchange for Iran curbing its nuclear program.

Sens. Gary Peters of Michigan, Ron Wyden of Oregon and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut all came out in favor of a deal bringing the total support votes to 41. That is significant because there's now enough support to thwart a an effort to undo the deal, without the President needing to exercise a veto.

It's still unclear if all the Democrats supporting the agreement would also band together to prevent a vote on the Republican-led disapproval resolution.

As NPR's Congressional Correspondent Ailsa Chang told NPR's Newscast unit, the Senate is still expected to devote lots of floor time to debating the deal.

"After weeks of keeping tabs on whether the President has enough support in the Senate to sustain a veto - the target has shifted. It's no longer about overriding or sustaining a veto. Now, it's about whether Republicans will be able to get the bill all the way to final passage in the Senate. In parliamentary math terms, Republicans would need a total of 60 votes to get all the way to the finish line, which they don't have."

Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia announced Tuesday he would be joining three other high-profile Democrats in opposing the deal: New Jersey's Bob Menendez, New York's Chuck Schumer and Maryland's Ben Cardin.

The Hill reports the 41 votes needed to block the disapproval resolution seals "an important victory over Republicans" for the President.

"Democrats had already won enough votes to sustain a promised Obama veto of the disapproval resolution, ensuring the Iran deal would be finalized. Still, winning enough votes to bottle up the deal is an impressive lobbying win for the White House.

"It follows an August recess in which supporters and opponents of the deal conducted an air war over cable television in a bid to win over undecided senators."

Congress has until September 17th to weigh in on the agreement, though the Senate could take up the first votes on the Iran deal as soon as Thursday.

Democrat Maria Cantwell (D-Wash) and Republican Susan Collins (R-ME) are the only Senators who have not publicly announced which way they are voting on the deal.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Brakkton Booker is a National Desk reporter based in Washington, DC.
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