WASHINGTON (JTA) — Two Jewish senators announced their backing for the Iran nuclear deal, bringing the total of senators supporting to 41 — enough to block Republicans from advancing a vote against it.
Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., among the 28 Jewish lawmakers in Congress closely watched in the lead-up to a Sept. 17 deadline on the deal, were joined Tuesday by Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., in announcing their support for the deal.
“My two paramount goals have been to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran and to do so by peaceful means,” Blumenthal said in a statement. “I believe the proposed agreement, using diplomacy, not military force, is the best path now available to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran.”
In a post on medium.com, Wyden explained his stance on the deal.
“This agreement with the duplicitous and untrustworthy Iranian regime falls short of what I had envisioned, however I have decided the alternatives are even more dangerous,” he wrote.
Marie Harf, a senior State Department official who helped negotiate the deal, announced on Twitter that Wyden, Peters and Blumenthal were backing the deal.
Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev. the Senate minority leader, said Tuesday that he plans on filibustering the deal – denying Republicans, who back legislation that would kill the deal, from getting the 60 senators out of 100 they need to advance the legislation. With 41 a filibuster is doable, although it is not yet clear if every senator who backs the deal will also vote for a filibuster.
“Blocking this agreement pushes Iran CLOSER to a bomb rather than farther away,” Reid said on Twitter. “That’s a fact.”
Wyden and Blumenthal bring to 17 the number of Jewish lawmakers who back the deal. Nine are opposed and two have yet to announce.
The deal reached in July between Iran and six major powers exchanges sanctions relief for nuclear restrictions. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee have led the opposition to the deal, saying that it leaves Iran a nuclear weapon threshold state.
President Barack Obama and his aides have lobbied fiercely for the deal, saying it is the only means of keeping Iran from becoming nuclear.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney on Tuesday lambasted the deal in an address to the conservative American Enterprise Institute. The deal, he said, “has vast implications for the future security of the Jewish people.”