President Barack Obama can now count on the support of 31 Senators to ratify the Iran nuclear deal.
The White House needs 34 votes in the Senate and 145 in the House to keep the Iran deal afloat and sustain a Presidential veto. So far, Obama has but one defection in the Senate and 151-strong supporters in the House. The latest addition to the “yes” list was on Sunday, with the commitment of the Democratic US Senator of Oregon, Jeff Merkley.
On September 8 the Congress will debate the Republican-sponsored “resolution of disapproval” against a deal with Iran that has become a legacy issue for Barack Obama. Israel’s government, which opposes the deal, intends to fully exploit this context to derail an agreement that it has pronounced not simply “bad” or “undesirable” but an existential threat. The combination of Israel’s opposition and the need to stand out from a crowd of no less than 10 Republican candidates seeking Presidential nomination has turned opposition to the Iran deal into a potential vote winning debate for any of the three Senators seeking nomination.
The crucial vote is due on September 17th.
The republican resolution is likely to pass by a simple majority in both houses. When that happens, the President can still veto the resolution. The big question is whether republicans of the two houses will gather enough support to override the Presidential veto, which requires a two-thirds majority in each chamber.
To do so, Republicans need to carry with them a number of Democrats in both houses. Thus far, one Democrat in the Senate and 11 in the House of Representatives have joined the republican campaign, most of them Jewish. Jewish Democrats in the House of Representatives from Florida, New York, Minnesota, and Montana joined the opposition. One of the defections, Schumer of New York, was thought the most likely Democratic candidate for House Leader.
Still, polls indicate the Iran deal is broadly endorsed by American Jews who are anything but streamlined in their support for this particular Israeli administration. In fact, the cleavage between US and Israeli Jewry on such a critical foreign policy issue is unprecedented.