It is fairly certain that the Republican majority in both houses of Congress will vote to pass the resolution after lawmakers return from summer recess and complete debate on the issue by mid-September. However, the Post notes that Republican Party still need to poach four more Democratic votes in the Senate in order to secure a filibuster-proof majority.
However, the main question is and for some time has been whether both houses will be able to muster a two-thirds majority in order to override the promised veto. This is reasonably possible in the House, where Republicans need the support of half of the Democrats who have given no clear indication of their position to date. Yet it is unlikely that that many will jump ship, especially considering that none of the 150 who signed a statement in support of the nuclear negotiations have yet done so.
The Post judges the Senate to be an even greater challenge because opponents of the deal will require votes from much more than half of the Democrats who are undecided and have not exposed their preference. Ten out of 12 will have to join Senators Chuck Schumer and Robert Menendez – the only Senate Democrats who have committed to voting against the deal.
A conclusion similar to that of the Post was touted by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi this week, as Senator Claire McCaskill of Montana and Senator Joe Donnelly of Indiana each declared their support for the deal, bringing the total number of Senate Democrats in favor of it to 26.
But the Associated Press notes that this confidence stands in contrast to renewed Republican anger over the deal in light of certain revelations about so-called side deals between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency. The agreements relate to the probe of the past military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program and apparently give Iran significant power to conduct its own investigations of the infamous Parchin military base, where Iran is suspected of conducting nuclear-related work including the testing of exploding bridge wire, a potential detonator for a nuclear warhead.
Opponents of the deal regard the IAEA’s alleged concessions to Tehran as being indicative of a broader pattern of concessions that have led to a nuclear agreement which allows Iran to keep much nuclear infrastructure, delay inspections of undesignated nuclear sites, and freely trade conventional weapons and ballistic missiles after five and eight years, respectively.
Assuming that the IAEA side deals prove to concrete evidence of concessions that go beyond the known provisions of the nuclear agreement, the emerging scrutiny may well provide a new means for rallying opposition to that deal among Democratic lawmakers and their constituents.
While Democrats are fairly unlikely to side with Republicans on this issue in light of tireless campaigning and pressure from President Obama, they are of course more likely to defy the will of their party leader if they believe that they are siding with the will of a large majority of their votes.
This possibility is increasingly likely in at least some instances. While a majority of Democrats in nationwide polls are in favor of implementation of the nuclear agreement, the overall trends are toward opposition. A recent CNN poll finds that 56 percent of respondents now believe Congress should reject the deal, and other polls have placed the proportion of popular opposition as high as two-thirds.
The CNN poll also finds that 60 percent of people have a negative view of President Obama’s overall handling of relations with the Islamic Republic. This may be partly attributable to the proliferation of news stories citing experts who believe that the nuclear agreement and broader rapprochement with Iran will make war more likely in the Middle East.
The perspective was expressed on in an analysis by World Affairs Institute Distinguished Fellow Joshua Muravchik, published Wednesday in the Weekly Standard. He argued that the West’s recent treatment of Iran was an instance of liberal democracies tacitly encouraging foreign policy overreach by an expansionist dictatorship that is not being confronted on its regional intrusions.
Muravchik also concludes that the nuclear agreement will provide additional funds to the expansionist elements of the Islamic Republic while alienating the traditional US allies in the region and leaving Tehran with the impression that it has carte blanche to make moves against them with little fear of consequence.
On Thursday, The Tower listed eight other experts who have publicly expressed conclusions similar to those of Muravchik in recent months.
The Obama administration has dismissed many such critics by asserting that the nuclear agreement is actually the only alternative to war and that its opponents have “common cause” with Iranian hardliners. While those critics tend to categorically reject the notion that they are in favor of war, this does not mean that a large number of them are not in favor of regime change in Iran.
Indeed, an editorial by political science professor Masoud Kazemzadeh, published in The Hill on Thursday, specifically took the position that regime change would be the greatest benefit to American interests in the Middle East. Kazemzadeh further argued that current US policy toward Iran only serves to empower the existing regime.
But he, like many other outspoken critics of that policy, intimates that regime change is achievable in absence of war, through such things as enhanced Western economic pressure on the government in Tehran, as well as support for domestic and regional resistance to its rule.