US President Barack Obama managed to garner enough support to secure the fate of his “signature foreign policy issue” as number of US senators declaring support for the Iran nuclear deal reached 34 on Wednesday.
Obama and his White House administration has been working vigorously to convince the lawmakers in US Congress to support the deal since it was signed between Iran and P5 + 1 countries - the US, the UK, France, China, Russia and Germany - on July 14.
Speaking to TRT World in an interview, Michael O’Hanlon, a senior fellow at Brookings Institute, explained the importance of the deal for Obama saying “This has become the president's signature foreign policy issue certainly of 2015, maybe even of whole second term.”
Republicans both in House and the Senate have showed unanimous opposition to the deal and they could have killed it with a resolution of disapproval if they could get enough support from the Democrats.
Although Obama said he would veto any bill against the deal, Republicans could override the veto with the support of 13 Democrats in the Senate and 44 Democrats in the House of Representatives.
“For this to be voted down now would be a stark repudiation of the president's own vision, and in fact also a repudiation of what Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden both helped work on,” O’Hanlon stressed what would a disapproval by the US Congress would mean.
O’Hanlon said that although the lawmakers did not think that the deal is “inherently great” they were convinced to support it comparing the deal to other possible alternatives which are “even worse.”
“No deal is perfect, especially one negotiated with the Iranian regime. I have concluded that this Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is the best option available to block Iran from having a nuclear bomb,” Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), the 34 senator to declare support for the deal, have said in her statement on Wednesday.
The US Congress is currently reviewing the nuclear deal, which is aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear programme in return for lifting of international sanctions. US lawmakers has until Sept. 17 to finish the review process and to vote for a resolution of disapproval or acceptance.
Obama and his fellow democrats’ next aim is to increase the number of senators supporting the deal to 41 and prevent the passage of resolution of disapproval in the first place, as only two Democratic senators, Chuck Schumer of New York and Robert Menendez of New Jersey have declared their opposition to the agreement so far.
Republicans, however, are still preparing to go on with a vote in the Congress to show their opposition which may work in their favour in the upcoming elections in 2016.
O’Hanlon said there is still a chance that Congress will vote for a resolution of disapproval although it will be overturned with president’s veto, and there is not enough votes to override Obama’s rejection.
“That will allow Republicans to say that they stood up to the president and even brought some Democrats along in doing so,” O’Hanlon added.
US Congress is set to resume action on Sept. 8 returning from August recess and the lawmakers will have about 10 days to finish the review process.