President Obama’s allies managed to block a disapproval resolution on the Iran nuclear deal from even coming to the floor for an up-or-down vote this afternoon.
The vote was 58-42, with four Democrats who had previously announced opposition to the agreement voting to move the bill forward: Sens. Chuck Schumer (N.Y.), Ben Cardin (Md.), Bob Menendez (N.J.) and Joe Manchin (W.Va.).
Senate Democrats tweeted afterward that they “saved” the Iran deal. Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) tweeted in response, “They will come to rue the day.”
Republican leaders will be bringing the bill back to the floor for another cloture vote on Tuesday.
But Obama was already claiming victory with the filibuster.
”Today, the Senate took an historic step forward and voted to enable the United States to work with our international partners to enable the implementation of the comprehensive, long-term deal that will prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. This vote is a victory for diplomacy, for American national security, and for the safety and security of the world,” Obama said in a statement.
“…Over the last several weeks, the more members studied the details of this deal, the more they came out in support,” he claimed. “Today, I am heartened that so many Senators judged this deal on the merits, and am gratified by the strong support of lawmakers and citizens alike. Going forward, we will turn to the critical work of implementing and verifying this deal so that Iran cannot pursue a nuclear weapon, while pursuing a foreign policy that leaves our country – and the world – a safer place.”
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told Dems on the floor that if they supported the deal so much, why were they afraid of sending it to his desk for the promised veto of disapproval?
“Democratic Senators just voted to filibuster and block the American people from even having a real vote on one of the most consequential foreign policy issues of our age,” McConnell said. “It’s telling that Democrats would go to such extreme lengths to prevent President Obama from even having to consider legislation on this issue. If the president is so proud of this deal, then he shouldn’t be afraid. He should wield his veto pen with pride and explain his rationale to the American people.”
“But this is a deal that was designed to go around Congress and the people from the start. That’s part of the reason the president ended up with a deal so bad that a bipartisan congressional majority would reject it.”
Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) argued it’s time to move on to more important domestic issues, as “our highway system is deteriorating.”
“Every Senator in this body should understand that if they are forced to vote on cloture it is because Senator McConnell, not Democrats, wanted them to,” Reid said, arguing that GOPs didn’t take his offer to move straight to a final vote. “The idea that Democrats are somehow trying to stop debate or keeping us from a final vote is foolish.”
Obama may be wanting to avoid a public veto signing as support for the deal is tanking. Just 21 percent approve of the agreement, according to a new Pew survey, down from 33 percent in mid-July.
Cardin said that after Obama puts the agreement into force, bipartisan opponents of Iran need to come together to keep pressure on the Islamic Republic and administration.
“As leaders and legislators, we must move forward in a bipartisan manner to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon,” the Maryland Dem and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said. “We must work to counter Iran-sponsored terrorism, confront Iranian violations of ballistic missile protocols, assist Israel in her fight for peace and security, and speak out against Iranian human rights violations. This will require unity between Democrats and Republicans, the Senate and House of Representatives, Congress and the administration. I stand ready to lead this effort in this spirit of unity and common purpose.”
And the House was debating different bills: a resolution to approve the nuclear deal, a bill that finds Obama did not follow the law by not providing all documents to lawmakers per the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, and freezing the ability of the president to lift Iran sanctions until Jan. 17, 2017.
The House has already voted on the noncompliance bill, finding 245-186 that Obama didn’t follow the law.
That resolution came from Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kansas), who said that “despite the reckless efforts by President Obama and Senate Democrats to force the implementation of the terribly flawed Iran nuclear agreement, I am proud of my colleagues in the House for getting it right and passing this important resolution today.”
“This resolution is crucial to reining in the president and forcing him to live up to his obligation under Corker-Cardin, which he himself signed into law just a few months ago,” Pompeo said.