WASHINGTON (CN) – President Barack Obama has enough Senate votes to protect the Iran nuclear deal from Republican assault after Sen. Barbara Mikulski said Wednesday she will support the agreement.
The support of the Maryland Democrat guarantees that if Congress in favor of a measure to turn down the deal, and the president vetoes that measure, as he has already said he will, he’ll have enough votes to prevent Republicans from overriding his action.
Mikulski joins 34 other Democrats in publicly supporting the deal, leaving Republicans who hoped to invalidate the agreement through Congressional action one vote short of the two-thirds majority needed to override a presidential veto.
“No deal is perfect, especially one negotiated with the Iranian regime,” Mikulski said in a statement explaining her support of the deal.
“I have concluded that this Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is the best option available to block Iran from having a nuclear bomb. For these reasons, I will vote in favor of this deal. However, Congress must also reaffirm our commitment to the safety and security of Israel,” Mikulski said.
In May, the Senate passed a bill requiring the administration to submit to Congress the text of any deal it struck with Iran and allowing Congress to vote to approve or repeal the deal.
President Obama said he would veto any Congressional action rejecting the deal, which his administration portrayed in an aggressive public campaign as the best available means to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
Both houses of Congress held a series of hearings on the deal struck between the United States and seven other world powers which would force Iran to cut back its capabilities to refine uranium to the levels needed to produce a nuclear weapon in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.
Critics of the deal, including many Republican leaders, doubted Iran would cooperate with the deal and expressed concern over the secrecy of the agreement between Iran and the international agency tasked with inspecting the country’s nuclear facilities.
In addition, Republicans said the deal does not feature a substantial limit on conventional arms and that after 15 years Iran would likely be able to produce a nuclear weapon.
“Anyone who believes this is a good deal really joins the ranks of the most naive people on the face of the Earth,” Sen. James Risch, R-Idaho, said at a July hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
But the administration said Congress rejecting the deal would send Iran away from the negotiating table and all but guarantee it would obtain a nuclear weapon in the near future.
Proponents of the agreement also said the “snapback” provisions in the deal that would re-implement economic sanctions if Iran abandoned the accord would provide the Middle Eastern nation with incentives to stay true to its word.
Mikulski said in her statement that she was satisfied with the provisions preventing Iran from getting a weapon and the measures in place that would protect Israel and other U.S. allies in the region.
The Senate will begin debate on the agreement when it returns from recess Tuesday.
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