Even some of the staunchest opponents of the nuclear agreement have acknowledged this situation, and some have adjusted their focus to accommodate it. In an analysis of the debate over implementation of the Join Comprehensive Plan of Action, Politico indicated that the opposition now regards the mere passage of the initial resolution as a victory, regardless of whether that resolution goes into law or is successfully vetoed.
Furthermore, Politico suggests that the Obama administration and its allies agree with this sentiment. Thus they hope to capitalize on the steady accumulation of Democratic votes in hopes of pushing it to a level that would allow for a filibuster, so as to block the resolution from ever coming to a vote. This will be far more difficult that simply sustaining a presidential veto, as it will require securing the support of 11 Democratic senators out of 14 who remain undecided.
This is made more difficult by the intensive lobbying against the deal from the Republican Party and from political pressure groups including the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. The Obama administration certainly recognizes the role of pro-Israel organizations, and for that reason it has made several efforts to reassure them, and to reassure individual Jewish voters, about the merits of the agreement.
Following upon prior meetings with such groups, on Friday President Obama held a webcast for Jewish Americans, organized by the Jewish Federations of North America and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. But the Los Angeles Times indicates that Obama’s remarks highlighted the strength of the existing opposition to his policies of rapprochement, which he claimed had led some to brand Jewish Democrats who have sided with Obama as “traitors.”
Obama’s prior appeals to Jewish groups have largely been unsuccessful, as evidenced by a gathering at the White House early in August that included then-undecided groups which nevertheless came down against the deal afterwards. It remains to be seen whether the latest appeal will have a different effect at a time when spending on opposition to the group is reportedly winding down in many circles.
But even if pressure from professional Jewish lobbies diminishes, Democrats who represent certain regions of the country may remain under considerable pressure from their own constituents. And by some accounts this pressure may be growing, and many continue to grow if opponents of the deal have more time to make their case and highlight the existing weakness is the JCPOA and in side deals dealing with investigations of Iran’s past nuclear work.
On Friday, The Tower highlighted the trend toward greater popular opposition to the agreement when it reported that a recent poll found 82 percent of Americans said that if Congress did not approve the measure they would oppose providing Iran with the tens of billions of dollars’ worth of sanctions relief that it is set to receive once the deal goes into effect.
The Tower adds that these results are in keeping with other polls that record opposition to the deal by a majority of the American public. And the specific issue of congressional oversight may have a strong impact on the more general issue of the deal as a whole. If Democrats manage to support a filibuster of the resolution of disapproval, Congress will have declared neither approval nor disapproval, and this may fall short of the standard demanded by 82 percent of people in the aforementioned poll.
On the other hand, Politico notes that many opponents of the agreement are resigned to its passage but are also of the view that the initial passage of a resolution of disapproval would send a message to Iran and would encourage its compliance with the agreement by demonstrating that the political will exists to walk away from the deal and impose more substantial consequences and pressure on Iran.
As many questions as remain regarding the ultimate prospects for the congressional vote on implementation of the nuclear agreement, many questions also remain about the political consequences of those prospects both for the implementation of the deal and American attitudes toward it. And many questions can be expected to remain at least until the process of debate and voting is concluded.
Politico also pointed out on Friday that the debate on this issue has been dynamic in the sense that newly revealed information has periodically strengthened one side of the issue or the other. The same may happen over the course of the remaining two weeks of the deal, and especially if the process drags on beyond that as the two sides battle over a presidential veto.