Iran deal likely to survive Capitol Hill opposition

WASHINGTON – Sen. Harry Reid, D.-Nev., and Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., are the latest lawmakers to announce their support of the Administration’s deal with Iran. That makes two more votes to sustain President Obama’s veto of the sure-to-come House and Senate resolutions to kill the deal.

All members of the House and Senate return here Sept.7 from their summer recess. The votes on the Iran agreement will take place September 17.

House members and then senators will vote “yes” to accept or “no” to reject the agreement. It’s a sure bet the deal will be rejected because Republicans are unanimously opposed. The rejection resolutions will then go to President Obama, who is sure to veto them.

Next, Republicans will offer resolutions in the House and Senate to override the veto. They need two thirds of both houses to win.

Slowly but surely enough Democrats to assure acceptance of the deal seem to be lining up with the Administration, but with lawmakers now scattered all over the country, no one can say for sure how many Democrats will vote for or against the resolutions on the deal or the veto.

This has not stopped Washington pundits from making predictions.

Every time a vacationing lawmaker makes a statement – no matter how ambivalent – the pundits parse it, dissect it, deconstruct it and weigh all possible interpretations.

Many – but not all – political observers predict that in the House, 12 Democrats will vote with the Republicans and 61 will not. Many – but not all – pundits also say that six Democrats are “leaning” against the deal and 23 are “leaning” for it. Observers have no clue as to how 86 Democrats will vote.

In the House, opponents of the deal need 290 votes to override a veto. All 246 Republicans will vote to override, so to prevail they need 44 of the 188 House Democrats to vote with them.

Regarding the Senate, observers are predicting that Ron Wyden of Oregon will join Chuck Schumer of New York and Robert Menendez of New Jersey in voting against the Administration. They also say that 32 senators seem to be “leaning” in favor of the agreement. No one says they can predict how 11 senators will vote.

Opponents of the deal in the Senate need 67 votes to override a veto. There are 54 sure Republican votes against the veto which means the Republicans need 13 Democrats to vote with them.

They might not be able to pinpoint the potential vote count, but political observers have been refreshingly candid about the pressure on lawmakers to vote against the Iran agreement.

The right-wing-backed American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is firing all its guns. Through a front group called Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran, it’s spending some $40 million for media ads during the Congressional recess and sending hundreds of people to dog the steps of lawmakers in their home jurisdictions.

The AIPAC juggernaut has extracted anti-agreement pledges from many lawmakers, but some are refusing to be bullied.

For example, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid told the Washington Post,  “I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure the deal stands.”

Reid is retiring, so he has nothing to lose.

On the other hand, standing up to AIPAC by supporting the agreement is an act of courage for Rep Nadler, who represents Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods in Brooklyn. His constituents are overwhelmingly against the agreement, but Nadler told the Forward newspaper, “When you’re dealing with issues of war and peace, that conceivably means life and death for many people, you have to try to ignore the political ramifications. It’s difficult to compartmentalize like that but that’s what’s important: not to worry about my next election.”

Tom Dine is also putting his conscience before his career. Along with 25 heads of national Jewish organizations, he signed a full-page ad in the New York Times supporting the agreement.

Dine is a former executive director of AIPAC.

Furthermore, Gary Samore quit his job as president of a right-wing group called United Against a Nuclear Iran because he supports the agreement.

Nadler, Dine and Samore took their stands as a matter of conscience. However, polls shows that they, and not AIPAC, represent the opinion of most American Jews.

A national survey conducted by GBA Strategies for J Street, a Jewish lobbying group, shows that 60 percent of American Jews support the agreement with Iran. Spot polls around the country have yielded similar results: in Colorado, 62 percent of the Jewish population support the agreement and in L.A., support for the agreement among the Jewish population is 18 percentage points more than those opposed.

The American public as a whole supports the deal by 56 percent.

In addition to the New York Times ad signed by 26 Jewish leaders, 340 rabbis from across the U.S. have signed a letter urging the House of Representatives and the Senate to endorse the agreement. The letter was circulated by Ameinu, which identifies itself as a “liberal Zionist organization.”

Despite the polls proving they are out of line with the Jewish community, AIPAC functionaries continue to bully lawmakers, indicating that they care more about propping up the Likud government of Netanyahu than they do about the opinions of the American Jewish community.

When Representative Nadler announced his support of the Iran agreement, a pro-AIPAC politician promised to raise millions of dollars to defeat him in the next election.

Photo: San Jose rally says “no” to war with Iran. Henry Millstein/PW



Larry Rubin
Larry Rubin

Larry Rubin has been a union organizer, a speechwriter and an editor of union publications. He was a civil rights organizer in the Deep South and is often invited to speak on applying Movement lessons to today's challenges. He has produced several folk music shows.