Those For and Against the Deal
Those who are against the Iran Deal’s approval, primarily Republicans along with a few Democrats, place significant concern on many components of the Deal and have said they will vote against it - or pass a “disapproval resolution” - in the hope that President Obama will be forced to re-negotiate with Iran. This camp primarily takes issue with the lack of “anytime, anywhere” inspections for Iran’s nuclear facilities, the fact that approval process for inspections may take longer than 24 days, and the releasing of sanctions and frozen funds in areas that don’t pertain to nuclear power.
Adam Turner, General Counsel and Director of Legislative Affairs for the Endowment to Middle East Truth, said that the U.S. had given up too much and tied their hands in the process - leaving only violent options on the table if Iran does not comply with the deal.
He said that between that and all other sanction releases, the US taken away its ‘Peaceful Sticks.’ If the US does have to do something, it'll will be forced into war. The US can’t put more sanctions because that violates the treaty, and if new sanctions were implemented on terrorists, Iran will walk away. This only leaves the US with the ability to go to war.
Turner also believes that along with putting the United States in a weak position, that the deal also puts the entirety of the Middle Eastern region at risk.
“What’s likely to happen is we would see significant increases in Mid East nuclear development that would essentially escalate to an arms race. [...] Iran is supporting rebels, and with increased funding because of this deal and more power with nukes, places like Saudi Arabia will have to start developing,” Turner said.
"With this deal, [the US is] saying that’s OK, that there’s an alternative way to go forward for them - essentially giving them unfair treatment and giving them positive reinforcement for their misbehavior.”
Those who support the JCPOA say that the deal is a good one, for it effectively blocks Iran from building a nuclear weapon through limits on: their uranium and plutonium production rendering Iran unable to produce a nuclear weapon for an entire year, removing 2/3rds of the centrifuges from the Natanz Fuel Enrichment Plant for 10 years, banning them from using the Fordow Site for nuclear purposes, and consistent and comprehensive monitoring from the International Atomic Energy Agency and P5+1 countries (China, France, Russia, UK, US, Germany).
The consequences of not passing the deal are steep, with some saying that it would severely alter the world’s geopolitical landscape and U.S. clout over the region.
“The consequences of Congress stopping the deal would be harsh for the United States and chaotic for international order,” said Cornelius Adebahr, of The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, in an op-ed.
This camp, however, is not claiming the deal to be a fix-all to the maladies that plague the Mid East region. They say that above all else, the deal is a stepping stone to further change in Iran and the wider region.
“The honest answer is that it will take many years to determine the impact of the Iranian nuclear deal on the Middle East. [...] It’s telling that Iran’s private sector and civil society is most excited about this deal and the Revolutionary Guards appear most concerned about it,” said Karim Sadjadpour, Senior Associate at the Carnegie Institute’s Middle East Program, in an op-ed.
Voting Counts: The Whip Lists of Congress
In the past weeks, Congressmen from across the political spectrum have been slowly coming public of where they stand on the Iran Deal and how they will vote. The politicos of Washington have been keeping a close tally, and think tanks have been busy consulting lawmakers on the details of the deal.
One vote is all it takes for the JCPOA to be passed, delayed, or vetoed. The Iran Deal vote will not strictly be along party lines (Senator Chuck Schumer, for example, is a Democrat who has announced that he is against the deal), but the Republican majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate has made it safe to assume that a “disapproval resolution” for the Deal will be passed in the September 17th vote (if enough votes are accrued to avoid a filibuster - also something likely to happen) and will be sent to President Obama’s desk for a likely veto.
Once the President vetoes the disapproval resolution, it will be sent back to both houses of Congress. From there - the House and Senate needs two-thirds of their respective chambers in order to override Obama’s veto of their disapproval resolution, and probably forcing the President and the State Department to return to the negotiating table with Iran. If the President gets 34 Senators to support the deal, Congress will not be able to override his veto.
Of the 435 current members of the House of Representatives, only 188 have made their specific sentiments about the Deal known to the public. As for the rest of the votes, we can only conjecture. All 100 members of the Senate have made their opinion on the Deal public, so we have a clearer picture of the vote in that chamber. At time of publishing, only 3 more Senators were needed to block a veto override and to prevent those against the Iran Deal from obtaining two-thirds of the chamber. At the House, 44 Democrats would have to vote in favor of a veto override along with the Republicans, who hold the majority, in order to meet the two-thirds.
Here are the current vote counts - or “Whip Lists” - are below:
Think tanks and lobbyist groups in DC, who have been calling Congressional offices and making trips up to Capitol Hill, have been attempting to woo lawmakers to vote for/against the Deal at “winnable” offices - but even with this, the results of the vote to override Obama’s likely veto are very uncertain.
“The ideal path would be to get enough Democrats to kill the Deal, and to have the President renegotiate,” said Turner. “As for the vote, [the think tank] probably knows as much as you do. [...] It’s definitely going to be an interesting few months.”