Leaders confident they can deny opponents of nuclear accord a veto-proof two-thirds majority in both chambers

File photo: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi speaks with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, December 5, 2014 (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
File photo: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi speaks with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, December 5, 2014 (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)


Congressional Democrats are increasingly confident that they will have the one-third votes in either chamber to defend a presidential veto against any legislative bid to overturn the Iran nuclear deal.

“More and more of them (House Democrats) have confirmed to me that they will be there to sustain the veto,” Pelosi told reporters, according to Reuters.

Republicans in the House and Senate are expected to push through a “resolution disapproval,” effectively keeping the US out of the nuclear deal negotiated with Iran by a US-led group of six world powers.

But President Barack Obama has promised to veto such a bill, forcing Congress to produce a two-thirds majority in both houses to override the veto.

While Republicans control a majority in both chambers, they cannot muster a two-thirds veto-proof majority without at least 44 Democratic House representatives and 13 Democratic senators.

When the House went to recess last week, Reuters noted, “no senior Democrat in the chamber had come out formally against the agreement and several central figures, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, were strongly in favor.”

Pelosi was among those saying they were confident the veto would survive in Congress.

The deal curtails Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for a lifting of international sanctions. Critics, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a majority of Israeli coalition and opposition leaders, worry the limits on that program do not go far enough, and that Iran will not face meaningful ramifications if it breaks the agreement. Supporters, including Obama and his cabinet in Congressional testimony in recent weeks, have insisted the deal is a good one, and will prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons for over a decade.

The pro-Israel advocacy group AIPAC has gone to bat against the deal, directly opposing the White House for only the third time in its history.

A handful of Democrats have come out against the deal, including Representatives Grace Meng of New York and Juan Vargas from California, but none hold senior leadership posts in Congress.

“That shows the strength of the firewall we have here,” a senior Democratic congressional aide told Reuters.

David Price, a Democratic member of the House from North Carolina and a key whip responsible for securing Democratic votes for the deal, was even more optimistic. “I’m encouraged right now,” he said.

Congress will return from recess on September 8, only nine days before the 60-day deadline for rejecting the nuclear accord, which comes September 17.

Many Jewish Democrats, facing staunch opposition from some of the most active members of the American Jewish community, remain on the fence, including Senator Chuck Schumer and Rep. Eliot Engel of New York, both influential members of their respective chambers’ foreign affairs committees.

“There’ll be a lot of pressure on Democrats to support the president,” Engel told Reuters.

Engel has met with both sides, sitting down with Obama in the Oval Office last Wednesday, and with Israel’s Ambassador to Washington Ron Dermer at the Capitol the next day.

He said it would be “very tough” to win over enough Democrats to override the president’s veto. But when asked if he would vote to override, Engel said, “I’m considering it.”

As reported by The Times of Israel