President Barack Obama and other top officials have been in near constant communication with House and Senate Democrats, through group and one-on-one interactions, to urge them to support the P5+1 deal with Iran and vote against the resolution of disapproval put forth Tuesday by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce.
Bob Corker, Royce’s opposite number in the Senate, said he will introduce a companion version of the disapproval measure later this week.
Members of Congress and their staffers tell us that the White House has asked Democrats who are expected to oppose the deal to hold off on announcing their position until September, when Congress will be focused on the agreement.
Between now and Labor Day, Congress may learn much more about the side agreements reached between the International Atomic Energy Agency and Iran over how inspectors will gain access to suspected sites and verify information about the history of Iran’s nuclear program.
There are about two dozen Congressional Democrats who are being targeted heavily by both sides -- either party leaders or prominent figures in the pro-Israel community who thought to have influence over other the thinking of their colleagues. Chief among them are Senator Charles Schumer of New York, Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking Democrat Ben Cardin of Delaware, and Jewish Democratic lawmakers such as Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut.
In an interview, Blumenthal declined to talk about his private conversations with the Obama administration or AIPAC, but he told us he won’t be swayed by either the White House’s political pressure or the $40 million lobbying campaign sponsored by AIPAC and other groups opposed to the deal.
“I’m going to be spending all of August talking to my constituents because I want to understand what they are thinking,” he said. “My overriding and single concern is what is the right thing to do for our nation.”
Royce told us he is asking his Democratic colleagues to consider a bipartisan letter most of them signed earlier this year that laid out four conditions for a good agreement. Royce said on every single one of those conditions, from resolving outstanding questions about the history of Iran’s nuclear issues to calling for "anytime, anywhere" inspections of suspected sites, the deal reached in Vienna last month does not meet the standards.
Royce also told us the second case he is making is to look at Iran’s foreign meddling today in Gaza, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen. "As Iran continues with this aggression I think it potentially will impact the decisions of members of the House of Representatives," he said.
On Tuesday, Representative Nita Lowey of New York, the party’s top appropriator, came out against the deal, saying, “In my judgment, sufficient safeguards are not in place to address the risks associated with the agreement.” Lowey is a close associate of House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, who is promising to deliver enough Democratic votes to prevent an override of a presidential veto of the disapproval measure.
Bloomberg, 4 August 2015