There is a more immediate concern for Democrats, too, the 2016 election. Republicans have made no secret of their willingness to tag Democrats who support the agreement with a "weak on defense" and "weak on terrorism" label.
Part of the propaganda raised against the agreement is that it will free tens of billions of dollars in frozen Iranian accounts and boost oil revenues when sanctions are dropped and that some of this money will be spent to spread terrorism. Iran is often accused of being the world's worst state sponsor of terror, a designation that depends a great deal on how one defines "terror."
But while this effort might work to weaken the prospects of some Democrats, two encouraging notes for the White House and its congressional allies during the recess has been public opinion and the failure of opponents to come up with a replacement for the agreement hammered out word by word over 20 months of negotiations:
In the end, one administration official said two things broke in Mr. Obama’s favor: an absence of outrage when lawmakers went back home for the summer recess, and a failure of the opponents to develop a credible alternative to the deal as it was negotiated in Vienna on July 14.
More important, the official said, an expected Republican alternative approach — an argument that Congress should simply ignore the accord and try to keep the existing interim accord in place—“never got beyond a few talking points.”
Even the millions of dollars in anti-agreement ads plastered on television during the past six weeks didn't move the public. Although most polls since the nuclear agreement was announced in mid-July have shown a small majority want to see Congress reject it, the most recent one showed
a slight majority want to see it approved.
The lack of outrage was punctuated by grassroots support for the agreement. MoveOn, Credo, Daily Kos and other progressive allies ran petitions and urged members to phone their representatives and senators.
Although the Wednesday declaration from Sen. Barbara Mikulski favoring the agreement gives the White House the 34 votes needed to sustain a veto of any Republican-led rejection of the agreement, the administration wants to get seven of the 10 undeclared Democrats to join those already in support. That would provide the 41 votes needed to filibuster any resolution of disapproval from ever being considered.
Jim Lobe writes that the three toughest possibilities are Ben Cardin of Maryland, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Ron Wyden of Oregon. But a fourth senator, categorized as "leaning yes" for the agreement by The Hill, may not be: Joe Manchin III of West Virginia:
While reportedly persuaded on the merits of the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action], the West Virginia senator is very worried about the potential political fallout in his very anti-Obama, coal-dependent state. Observers also note that Booker faces a serious dilemma: if his political ambitions are confined to New Jersey, he could safely join Sen. Robert Menendez in voting with the Republicans. But if his ambitions include national office – and political observers have long pegged him as very ambitious indeed – rallying behind Obama makes much more sense given the intensity with which core Democratic organizations like MoveOn and Credo Action have mobilized behind the agreement. Cardin, who, as the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is considered the most important “get,” is also seen as genuinely conflicted. The fact that fellow-Marylander Mikulski and Delaware Sen. Chris Coons, who also serves on the Foreign Relations Committee and has been among the most skeptical of the JCPOA among Democrats, has sided with the White House may tilt the balance.
Here are the 10 Senate Democrats who have not yet declared how they stand.
Sen. Michael Bennet (Colo.)
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (Conn.)
Sen. Ben Cardin (Md.)
Sen. Gary Peters (Mich.)
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.)
Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.)
Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.)
Sen. Mark Warner (Va.)
Sen. Maria Cantwell (Wash.)
Sen. Joe Manchin (W. Va.)
Here is the whip count of the House from The Hill.
Ninety-four House Democrats have declared themselves in support of the agreement. Fourteen are opposed.
Here is the list of 10 representatives said to be "leaning yes":
• Rep. Terri Sewell (Ala.)
• Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (Calif.)
• Rep. Sanford Bishop (Ga.)
• Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (Mo.)
• Rep. Bill Pascrell (N.J.)
• Rep. Chaka Fattah (Pa.)
• Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (Texas)
• Rep. Bobby Scott (Va.)
• Rep. Derek Kilmer (Wash.); Rep. Rick Larsen (Wash.)
And here are the 68 who are undecided or whose positions are unclear:
Rep. Ruben Gallego (Ariz.); Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (Ariz.); Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.)
Rep. Xavier Becerra (Calif.); Rep. Ami Bera (Calif.); Rep. Tony Cardenas (Calif.); Rep. Jim Costa (Calif.); Rep. Janice Hahn (Calif.); Rep. Jared Huffman (Calif.); Rep. Ted Lieu (Calif.); Rep. Grace Napolitano (Calif.); Rep. Raul Ruiz (Calif.); Rep. Loretta Sanchez (Calif.); and Rep. Norma Torres (Calif.)
Rep. Diana DeGette (Colo.); Rep. Jared Polis (Colo.)
Rep. John Carney (Del.)
Rep. Kathy Castor (Fla.); Rep. Lois Frankel (Fla.); Rep. Gwen Graham (Fla.); Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.); Rep. Frederica Wilson (Fla.).
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii); Rep. Mark Takai (Hawaii)
Rep. Tammy Duckworth (Ill.); Rep. Bill Foster (Ill.); Rep. Daniel Lipinski (Ill.)
Rep. Pete Visclosky (Ind.)
Rep. Dave Loebsack (Iowa)
Rep. Cedric Richmond (La.)
Rep. John Delaney (Md.); Rep. Steny Hoyer (Md.); Rep. Dutch Ruppersburger (Md.); Rep. John Sarbanes (Md.)
Rep. Bill Keating (Mass.); Rep. Richard Neal (Mass.)
Rep. Collin Peterson (Minn.)
Rep. Bennie Thompson (Miss.)
Rep. Lacy Clay (Mo.)
Rep. Ann McLane Kuster (N.H.)
Rep. Frank Pallone (N.J.)
Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (N.M.); Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (N.M.)
Rep. Joseph Crowley (N.Y.); Rep. Brian Higgins (N.Y.); Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (N.Y.); Rep. Charles Rangel (N.Y.).
Rep. Dina Titus (Nev.)
Rep. Alma Adams (N.C.)
Rep. Joyce Beatty (Ohio); Rep. Marcia Fudge (Ohio); Rep. Marcy Kaptur (Ohio); Rep. Tim Ryan (Ohio)
Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (Ore.); Rep. Kurt Schrader (Ore.)
Rep. Robert Brady (Pa.); Rep. Matthew Cartwright (Pa.)
Rep. David Cicilline (R.I.); Rep. Jim Langevin (R.I.)
Rep. Jim Cooper (Tenn.)
Rep. Henry Cuellar (Texas); Rep. Al Green (Texas); Rep. Gene Green (Texas); Rep. Marc Veasey (Texas); Rep. Filemon Vela (Texas)
Rep. Suzan DelBene (Wash.)
Rep. Ron Kind (Wis.)
Fourteen House Democrats have declared themselves opposed to the agreement and two are leaning no—Alan Grayson (Fla.) and Brad Ashford (Neb.)
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