Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) says he’ll vote against the Iran nuclear deal, and said this morning “to those who were upset by my deliberations, I would simply say that the decision to pursue diplomacy is every bit as consequential as the decision to pursue war.”
Manchin said he was initially supportive of the diplomatic efforts by the Obama administration and the P5+1.
“I have always believed that to truly be a super power, you must engage in super diplomacy. Whenever I am able, I will choose diplomacy over war,” he said, particularly as his home state has one of the highest military service rates in the country.
“But as I struggled with this decision, I could not ignore the fact that Iran, the country that will benefit most from sanctions being lifted, refuses to change its 36-year history of sponsoring terrorism,” Manchin added.
“For me, this deal had to be about more than preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon for the next 10-15 years. For me, this deal had to address Iran’s terrorist actions. Without doing so would reward Iran’s 36 years of deplorable behavior and do nothing to prevent its destructive activities. In fact, even during the negotiating process, it has continued to hold four Americans hostage, support terrorism around the world, breed anti-American sentiment and acquire arms from Russia.”
The senator stressed that “the continued actions by Iran and its recent activities with Russia have proven to me that when we catch Iran violating the agreement, and I believe we will, I have grave doubts that we will have unified, committed partners willing to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”
The administration has tried to convince opponents that sanctions relief is a) a drop in the bucket and b) will mostly go toward repairing Iran’s economy instead of terrorism, but Manchin said he “cannot in good conscience agree to Iran receiving up to $100 billion in funds that everyone knows will be used, at least in some part, to continue funding terrorism and further destabilize the Middle East.”
“The administration has accepted — what I consider to be a false choice — that this is only about nuclear weapons and not terrorism.However, the fact of the matter is that we are concerned about Iran having a bomb because, in large part, it is the world’s largest state sponsor of terror. Asking us to set aside the terrorist question is irresponsible and misses the point… This regime has shown no signs that its deplorable behavior will change, and this deal does nothing to guarantee that behavior changes.”
Summing up his “no” vote, the centrist Dem said, “I do not believe that supporting this deal will prevent Iran from eventually acquiring a nuclear weapon or continuing to be a leading sponsor of terrorism against Americans and our allies around the world.”
“I will continue to listen to my constituents, and I will support a path towards peace and diplomacy over war and aggression, but make no mistake about it: I will vote to use all of our military might to protect our homeland whenever it is threatened, defend our allies whenever they are put in harm’s way and prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon,” he said. “I believe that to be a super power, you must possess super diplomatic skills, and I believe that we can use these skills to negotiate a better deal.”
President Obama quickly racked up enough “yes” votes this morning to filibuster the resolution.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) — who usually tends to go the way of Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Israel issues; both of those senators are voting “no” — came out in support of the deal. Also voting “yes” were Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and Gary Peters (D-Mich.).
But Sen. Chris Coons (D-Conn.), who supports the deal, said he wants an up-or-down vote on the resolution.