Momentum in US Congress for Accord Grows

Momentum in US Congress for Accord Grows
Momentum in US Congress for Accord Grows

US President Barack Obama's nuclear agreement with Iran won an important endorsement Friday from Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York, who bucked opposition from fellow New York Jewish lawmakers including his home state's senior senator, Chuck Schumer.

Nadler's endorsement followed a personal appeal from Obama, who sent him a letter earlier this week defending the deal.

"I bring to my analysis the full weight of my responsibilities as a member of Congress, and my perspective as an American Jew who is both a Democrat and a strong supporter of Israel," Nadler said in a statement. He said he had concluded that of the alternatives, the agreement "gives us the best chance" to curb Iran's nuclear program, the AP reported.

Tehran says its nuclear work is totally for peaceful applications, denying its activities may have any military aspects.

The deal would place temporary constraints on Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is vehemently opposed to the agreement.

"In our conversations, Jerry raised specific concerns relating to Israeli security and the US commitment to countering Iran's (alleged) destabilizing activities in the region," Obama said Friday. "I wanted to respond to the thoughtful questions Jerry raised, and I am pleased that our discussions were ultimately productive."

  Picking Up Support  

Nadler's announcement comes at the end of a week that has seen the deal pick up a steady stream of Democratic support in the House of Representatives and Senate despite furious opposition from Republicans who say it makes too many concessions to Iran.

Congress faces a vote next month on a resolution disapproving of the deal, but Obama will veto such legislation if it prevails. Congressional Republicans would then need to gather two-thirds majorities in both the House and the Senate to overturn Obama's veto, a steep bar that even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says Republicans are unlikely to overcome.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi declared this week that House Democratic supporters have the votes necessary to sustain Obama's veto despite unanimous Republican opposition. In the Senate, only two Democrats — Schumer and Robert Menendez of New Jersey — have announced opposition to the deal while 26 have announced their support.

Some key lawmakers have not yet made their positions known, among them Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid and Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 House Democrat.