The PJ Tatler

Top Foreign Relations Dem: Iran Vote 'Not a Party Loyalty Test'

Another key Democratic senator who might vote to oppose the administration on the Iran nuclear deal said after Sen. Chuck Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) defection that he’s “proud” of his caucus.

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was appointed to the ranking member spot after the previous one, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), was indicted. Menendez’s opposition to the Iran deal is clear, and Cardin hasn’t yet announced which way he’ll vote.

“I’m very proud of the Democratic caucus. Each of our members have been studying this issue, they didn’t rush to judgment. Many are still undecided. They’re making this decision on what they think is in the best interests of our country. They’re not going to make a decision based upon party affiliation,” Cardin told CNN on Friday.

“This is a consequential vote, a very important vote for the security of our country, and each member is laboring.”

The senator again stressed that “this is not a matter of party loyalty.”

“This is a matter of what’s in the best interests of our country and each senator has to make those judgments. This is a matter of national security. It’s not a party loyalty test,” he added. Thus, current and former White House officials saying that Schumer’s vote should disqualify him from being the next majority leader is “inappropriate.”

On President Obama’s speech last week comparing Republican opponents of the deal to hardliners in Iran, Cardin said, “We may disagree with some of the analogies that he made but he’s trying to get as much support as he can for his position.”

Cardin added that his decision needed to come after listening to his constituents over the recess.

“I decided that it’s been three weeks since we got the agreement. Less than three weeks. I have been involved in hearings for the last 2 1/2 weeks in briefings and reading documents, still getting some additional information. I told the people in Maryland I’m going to give them a chance during this work period, to have a chance to meet with different groups. I’m going to do that,” he said.

“So I’m trying to get as much information as possible. We have 60 days. Again we’re just in the first parts of those 60 days. I want to take the time to make the right decision. And I think taking this time will allow me to sort through this, give the people of Maryland an opportunity and make a decision that I think is best for our country.”