Endgame: Mikulski becomes 34th Senate Democrat to back Iran deal, ensuring GOP can't stop it

Thus ends a breathtaking performance of Republican failure theater. Once upon a time, knowing that your party controlled both chambers of Congress would have given you great comfort that a terrible treaty negotiated with a terrorist power could never become law in the United States.

I think this makes it official: I’m on the Trump bandwagon. Hail Caesar.

Democratic U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski said on Wednesday she will support the Iran nuclear deal, giving President Barack Obama the 34 Senate votes needed to sustain a veto of any congressional resolution disapproving of the deal.

Thirty-two Senate Democrats and two independents who vote with the Democrats now back the agreement.

Chris Coons and Bob Casey became the 32nd and 33rd Democrats to support the deal last night. The day before that, Dem Rep. Patrick Murphy announced his own support for the Iran agreement because, and I quote, he’s confident the deal will bring “peace in our time.” The only suspense left is whether Reid can block the GOP entirely by convincing seven of the remaining 10 undecided Democrats to filibuster the resolution of disapproval. Half of those 10 are from reliably blue states — Connecticut (Blumenthal), New Jersey (Booker), Washington (Cantwell), Maryland (Cardin), and Oregon (Wyden) — but because the tri-state area contains many Jewish Democratic voters, Blumenthal and Booker face the same tough decision New Yorker Chuck Schumer did in whether to back their party’s president on a deal that’s demonstrably terrible for U.S. and Israeli national security. (Bob Menendez, the only other Democrat to oppose the agreement, is from New Jersey.) The other five Dems on the fence are from purple or reddish states — Colorado (Bennet), West Virginia (Manchin), North Dakota (Heitkamp), Michigan (Peters), and Virginia (Warner). I assume the reason the 10 holdouts haven’t declared yet isn’t because they’re still weighing what to do but because they’re waiting to find out from Reid which three of them will be allowed to oppose the deal. That is, I think a filibuster is a fait accompli — since when do Democrats ever refuse leadership’s demand to fall in line? — and Reid’s trying to figure out which three of the 10 are the most vulnerable electorally and need to protect themselves by voting no. Bennet would seem the most obvious choice since Colorado is one of the true toss-ups in the next election, but he’s a rising star in the party and headed the DSCC in the last cycle. He might have to bite the bullet to show his solidarity with O.

I would guess that Heitkamp, Warner, and Manchin would be allowed to abandon ship, but Manchin’s sounded rosy about the deal in his public statements, so go figure. Anyway: What’d the GOP get out of all this? What did their huge advantage in the House and their eight-seat majority in the Senate ultimately amount to in terms of concessions? It’s one thing to lose a momentous fight on foreign policy, ceding all of your constitutional leverage in the process, but if you can get some goodies for your side at least you can say it’s not a total loss. Unless I missed something, we got … nothing. Not a thing — not even, in all likelihood, the right to crow and say that our resolution of disapproval passed the Senate with plenty of Democratic support. This fiasco will end with an essentially party-line vote on cloture, leaving Obama free to argue to the world that the deal has the acquiescence of the U.S. Congress. The only thing we get from this is the right to point out later, when this agreement eventually ends with Iran going nuclear and the Middle East being further destabilized, that this disaster is owned lock, stock, and barrel by the Democratic Party. That’s a nice consolation prize, but we’ve known since the beginning that we’d be getting that. What we’ve added to our “winnings” since this congressional kabuki began is precisely nothing.

Via RCP, here’s Dick Cheney wondering why Republicans ever agreed to treat this deal as something less than a treaty in the first place. Oh, by the way: Iran’s hardliners, the same people whom Barack Obama thinks are making “common cause” with Republicans, want you to know that nothing about this agreement has changed their conviction that the United States is indeed “the Great Satan” and that, if anything, they should go ahead and expand the reach of their ballistic missiles because of that.

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Jazz Shaw 5:31 PM on February 04, 2023