[Rushtalk] Obama's Iran Deal Will Survive As 34th Senator Announces Support

Carl Spitzer lynux at keepandbeararms.com
Wed Sep 16 08:21:41 MDT 2015

Obama's Iran Deal Will Survive As 34th Senator Announces Support

Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) gives the president the votes he needs to
beat back legislation to kill the deal.

Headshot of Sam Stein
Sam Stein Senior Politics Editor, The Huffington Post
Headshot of Amanda Terkel
Amanda Terkel Senior Political Reporter, The Huffington Post
Posted: 09/02/2015 10:12 AM EDT | Edited: 20 minutes ago
WASHINGTON -- A nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers that
promises to fundamentally alter the geopolitical landscape of the Middle
East and beyond will not die in the U.S. Congress. 

On Wednesday, Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) announced that she would
support the agreement, becoming the 34th member of the Senate to do so.
In offering her backing, Mikulski, who is retiring in 2016, assured that
President Barack Obama will dodge a Republican-led effort to kill the
deal. Although a resolution of disapproval may still pass the chamber,
the White House now has the necessary support to sustain a presidential
veto of said resolution. 

“No deal is perfect, especially one negotiated with the Iranian regime.
I have concluded that this Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is the
best option available to block Iran from having a nuclear bomb," said
the Senator in a statement. "For these reasons, I will vote in favor of
this deal. However, Congress must also reaffirm our commitment to the
safety and security of Israel.”

<span class='image-component__caption' itemprop=caption>Sen. Barbara
Mikulski, the Senate's longest-serving female member and a prominent
Israel supporter, backs the Iran nuclear deal. </span> Credit:
ASSOCIATED PRESS Sen. Barbara Mikulski, the Senate's longest-serving
female member and a prominent Israel supporter, backs the Iran nuclear
With the deal now seemingly safe from congressional torpedoing, Obama
has both notched one of the most significant nuclear non-proliferation
agreements in history and cemented a foreign policy legacy of robust
diplomatic engagement. Whether that legacy turns out sterling or sour
will be determined well beyond the end date of his presidency.

Under the deal, Iran would be subjected to comprehensive inspections on
its nuclear program and forced to reduce current uranium stockpiles and
the number of its centrifuges. In exchange, it will be granted sanctions
relief estimated to be anywhere between $50 billion and $150 billion.
But the deal phases out between years 10 and 15, albeit with Iran still
forced to provide some access for inspections for another 10 years
thereafter. And even for supporters of the initiative, concerns remain
about the possibilities of a quick military breakout once restrictions

"That's the core concern," Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) said in an
interview with The Washington Post when announcing his support for the
deal Tuesday. "All they've got to do is be really patient."

Faced with this pushback, the administration has implored lawmakers to
consider the alternative, in which no restrictions are placed on Iran
and the world community is unwilling to rework the accord. A briefing
between ambassadors and officials from the other countries party to the
deal -- in which they articulated their reluctance to head back to the
negotiating table -- was highly persuasive to several Democratic

While the passage of the deal is now secure, its long-term viability is
not. Nearly all of the Republican presidential candidates have pledged
to end the deal should they win the office. And though that seems to be
more of a campaign applause line than thought-out foreign policy, the
politics of the accord are difficult to predict or interpret. Public
opinion polls in July alone showed support varying from 33 percent to 56
percent. Opponents have been better funded, running millions of dollars
in television ads during the August recess to convince Democrats to jump
ship. But that campaign has had, seemingly, only a marginal effect.

So far just two Senate Democrats have announced their opposition. And
both Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) were seen as
skeptics of the deal from the outset. That said, Democrats could find
themselves in an odd proposition in which the vast majority of the party
supports the deal except their incoming Senate leader (Schumer) their
likely next House leader (Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland remains
undecided) and the chair of the Democratic National Committee (Rep.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida is undecided too).

That could explain the timing of Mikulski's announcement. The Maryland
Democrat is a strong symbolic choice to bring the vote tally for the
agreement to the critical 34. She is the chamber's longest-serving
female member and a prominent Israel supporter -- the American Israel
Public Affairs Committee, which has lobbied heavily against the deal,
called her "a stalwart supporter of the U.S.-Israel relationship." And
her backing could foreshadow forthcoming support from another critical
member: Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a fellow Marylander who is the ranking
member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Indeed, at this juncture, Democratic leadership is gunning to get to 40
supportive members, which would prevent a resolution of disapproval from
even making it to Obama's desk, should they choose to filibuster it.

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