Report: Obama Needs 3 Votes of 5 Still-Undecided Democrats

News ID: 853572 Service: Nuclear
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TEHRAN (Tasnim) – The Iran nuclear agreement is still short of three Democratic votes of 41 needed to prevent a resolution of disapproval from passing in the first place, a report said.

According to a report by The Hill on Monday, the White House has gained enough votes to ensure the agreement ultimately survives Congress, but it still needs to muster 3 more from the Democrats who are on the fence in order to save Obama’s veto.

The report added that the Obama administration is looking to lock down support from five still-undecided Senate Democrats who can play a vital role in blocking the disapproval resolution.

The president can only afford to lose two of the remaining five undecided Democrats if he wants to avoid having to issue a veto — an action he has taken only four times during his presidency. 

Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), one of the five undecided, has said little publicly about the deal.

But the blue-state Democrat, who isn't up for reelection until 2018, is widely expected to support the agreement. Cantwell has previously distanced herself from legislation that would increase sanctions against Iran.

That leaves four Senate Democrats who could make or break the administration's push to avoid using a veto:

Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) is the only holdout from his state delegation, is facing a mountain of pressure from both sides.  

Senator Gary Peters (D-Mich.) has not yet announced his decision, but he suggested during an interview late last month with Interlochen Public Radio that parts of the nuclear agreement make him nervous.

“Iran wants to enrich uranium. ... Enrichment can lead down the path to building a weapon,” he added. “There’s no reason for them to enrich for them to have a peaceful program, and that part is troubling.”

Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said shortly after the agreement was announced that it would be “would be a catastrophe to walk away,” he’s facing a tough wall of opposition to the deal back in his conservative home state.

Manchin, however, suggested Thursday during a town hall meeting on Iran in Charleston, W.Va., that he wouldn’t support a Democratic filibuster of the Iran resolution.

Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a Jewish lawmaker who is up for reelection next year — is the most likely to vote against the deal. 

Like his undecided colleagues, he’s facing pressure from both sides. Liberal activists have demonstrated outside of his offices in Oregon, while the American Security Initiative — a group that opposes the deal — targeted Wyden with an ad and asked its supporters urge him to reject the agreement.

According to reports, American lawmakers are scheduled to begin on Tuesday the process of reviewing the nuclear agreement between Iran and six world powers.

The Republican-controlled Congress will work on a resolution to disapprove the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) when they return from a summer recess.

President Obama needs 41 votes in the Senate to filibuster procedural rule to prevent the resolution. So far 38 Senators, 36 of them Democrats and two independents, have come out in support of the agreement.

If the resolution is filibustered, it would be a major victory for the White House, which wouldn’t have to use President Obama’s veto pen to protect the accord.

Republicans hold 54 seats in the 100-member Senate and 246 in the House, which has 434 members and one vacancy.

Congress has until September 17 to pass the resolution. Obama then has 12 days to veto it and Congress has another 10 days to try to override his veto.

Because the disapproval measure is a House resolution, the House will consider the veto first, so a Senate vote may not be needed.

By Friday, 110 House members, all Democrats, had expressed support for the nuclear pact, and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi has said she is confident she will muster enough votes to sustain a veto.

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