WASHINGTON (JTA) — Rep. Adam Schiff, a key Democrat in the political battle over the Iran nuclear deal, is backing the agreement, as is a former senior Jewish lawmaker, Rep. Barney Frank.
In a statement Monday, Schiff, of California, outlined what he saw as the pluses of the sanctions relief for nuclear restrictions deal, including intrusive inspections and the ability to reimpose sanctions should Iran violate the deal, and its drawbacks, including limited access to military sites and aspects of the deal expiring after 15 years.
“In the absence of a credible alternative, Congress should accept the deal and work with the Administration to strengthen its impact, while joining forces with our allies to better contain Iran’s conventional capabilities and nefarious conduct in the region and beyond,” he said.
His opinion has weight: Schiff is the senior Democrat on the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, privy to and knowledgeable about the intelligence dimensions of the deal reached July 14 between Iran and six major powers.
Schiff was among some 10 of the 27 Jewish Democrats in Congress under the closest scrutiny in the battle over the deal waged between the Obama administration, which backs the deal, and Israel and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which oppose it.
In supporting the agreement, Schiff joins other Jews in the Democratic leadership, including Reps. Sander Levin, D-Mich., and Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif, as well as a number of others. Congress has until mid- to late September to decide on the deal. Obama has pledged to veto disapproval of the deal, and the House and Senate each would need a two-thirds majority to override.
Frank, who for decades represented Massachusetts in the House and was chairman of its Banking Committee, writing in the Press Herald of Portland, Maine, noted that he was among those who had led passage of the sanctions that helped bring Iran to the table. He argued that retreating from the deal would collapse the international sanctions regime and leave Iran free to pursue a nuclear weapon.
“Compared with the no-deal result, with Iran free to pursue nuclear weapons constrained only by unilateral sanctions from America and a few of our allies, what Obama and Kerry have done deserves support,” he said, pointing out the efforts of Secretary of State John Kerry.
Also announcing support for the deal Monday were Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., who represents a Bay Area District, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. Both lawmakers have considerable Jewish constituencies.
Democrats opposed to the deal include Rep. Juan Vargas, D-Calif., who represents a San Diego-area district, and Rep. Grace Meng, D-N.Y., whose New York City area district has a substantial Jewish population. Meng’s predecessor, Gary Ackerman, like Frank, a decades-long Jewish leader in the House, also opposes the deal.
Republicans mostly oppose the deal, so much of the focus on garnering the necessary numbers to defeat it has been on Democrats.