President Obama is within three votes of guaranteed victory on the Iran nuclear agreement after Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley (OR) announced his support for the deal.
Sen. Merkley laid out his reasoning in a statement posted on Medium:
The question, then, is whether the international agreement negotiated between Iran and the P5+1 nations (the United States, France, United Kingdom, Russia, China, and Germany) is the best strategy for blocking Iran’s potential pursuit of a nuclear weapon.
This question is one of the most important that I will face representing Oregonians in the U.S. Senate. I have carefully read the agreement and met with policy experts, intelligence analysts, advocates, and the ambassadors of our partner nations to explore the strength of every argument and counter-argument. I have sought and received the counsel of Oregonians on both sides of the issue, and I deeply appreciate their passionate and extensive insights.
Taking all of this into account, I believe the agreement, titled the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), is the best available strategy to block Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
No foreign policy choice comes with guarantees. The future, whether we approve or reject the deal, is unknowable and carries risks. But the agreement offers us better prospects for preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and more tools and leverage to ensure that outcome.
Therefore, when the Senate debates the Iran agreement after Labor Day, I will vote to support it.
Merkley is the thirty-first senator to announce that he will be supporting the agreement. President Obama needs thirty-four Democratic votes to sustain a veto if the resolution of disapproval passes the Senate.
With President Obama’s ability to get the 34 needed votes no longer in doubt, a bigger question is can the President get the 41 Senate votes that he would need to avoid the veto showdown by blocking the resolution in the Senate.
The White House and Democrats on the Hill are growing increasingly confident that they will have the votes needed to deal Mitch McConnell and John Boehner a devastating defeat. Only two Democrats have announced their opposition to the deal, but there are still thirteen undecided Democrats. President Obama needs ten of the remaining thirteen to block the resolution of disapproval. The President only needs the support of three of the remaining thirteen to sustain his veto.
The math is working against Republicans. It is clear that President Obama and Democrats are on a steady march towards victory on the Iran nuclear deal.