US Dems Poised to Block Iran Vote

US Dems Poised to Block Iran VoteUS Dems Poised to Block Iran Vote

US Democrats intend to mount a filibuster to block the Iran nuclear deal from even having to reach President Barack Obama's desk for a veto, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid signaled Saturday in a statement.

He and his party colleagues already have enough committed supporters that they would be able to sustain an Obama veto and allow the Iran deal to proceed, but a filibuster would be an even bigger coup, halting the issue earlier in the process and heading off a protracted — and potentially politically costly — veto fight.

Reid suggested Democrats would not try to block a final vote on the accord, but only if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agrees to a higher threshold for passage.

"I recently informed Senator McConnell that after a period of robust debate, Democrats would be happy to proceed straight to a final passage vote that is consistent with Senator McConnell's many statements that important matters in the Senate have 'for quite some time required 60 votes.' The choice is up to him," the Washington Times reported Reid as saying.

A surge of support for Obama's stance this week has put Democrats well over the 34 votes needed to guarantee upholding the veto, and they are now within striking distance of the 41 votes that would guarantee a filibuster, too.

The latest count from the Bipartisan Policy Center puts them at 38 supporters — 36 Democrats and two liberal-leaning independents.

Just 33 senators have announced their opposition, and 29 have yet to give an official stance. Most of those are Republicans who are expected to try to defeat the deal, but five Democrats remain publicly uncommitted.

***60-Vote Threshold

In his statement, Reid taunted McConnell, who led repeated filibusters while Democrats controlled the chamber from 2007 through the end of 2014. McConnell said big issues required a 60-vote threshold associated with overcoming filibusters.

The Iran debate is slated to begin Tuesday, as the US Congress returns from a long summer vacation.

Under the terms of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, passed earlier this year, Congress has a chance to look over the deal Obama and other international leaders reached with the Islamic Republic on July 14, designed to place temporary constraints on Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

The law gives Congress the chance to disapprove of the deal, but that bill then goes to Obama, who wields a veto. It takes a two-thirds vote of each chamber to override the veto, and if a bill were to get that far, supporters of the deal would face intense pressure from pro-Israeli lobbying groups.

But a filibuster would nip the process earlier, preventing a chance for the lobbying to kick into high gear and avoiding the need for Democrats to cast more politically fraught votes.