WASHINGTON—With Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid now on board, the nuclear agreement between Iran and six world powers seems to be picking up the momentum it needs to survive fierce opposition in Congress from its Republican opponents.
Reid on Sunday became the 27th and most powerful Senate Democrat to throw his support behind the president and the Iran nuclear deal, which could open the door for some of his non-committed colleagues to come aboard.
“I strongly support the historic agreement and will do everything in my power to ensure that it stands,” Reid, D-Nev., said in a news release. Reid said he work to ensure that “America holds up our end of the commitment we have made to our allies and the world to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran.”
Congress plans to vote on a resolution of disapproval of the deal struck by the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany with Iran. Even if the resolution passes, President Barack Obama plans to veto it and it would take a two-thirds majority to override it, a margin that would be unlikely to achieve.
Having Reid on the president’s side will make it difficult for opponents to muster the needed support in the Senate from Democrats. In the Senate, only two Democrats — Chuck Schumer of New York and Robert Menendez of New Jersey — have announced opposition to the deal.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said Monday she will support the deal, joining steady stream of Democrats who have recently backed the deal.
Reid’s support for the deal comes as Obama is set to head to Nevada Monday for an energy summit sponsored in part by Reid.
Republicans and the Israeli government furiously oppose the deal, which seeks to keep Iran from building a nuclear bomb in exchange for billions in international sanctions relief. They say the agreement makes too many concessions to Iran and could actually enable that country to become a nuclear-armed state.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi already has said House Democratic supporters have the votes necessary to sustain Obama’s veto despite unanimous GOP opposition.
The White House had no immediate comment.
Reid said he believes that the deal was the best that could be achieved.
“First, this is a good agreement on the merits, imposing the toughest inspections and verification regime in history, and a diplomatic solution is certainly less costly in American blood and treasure than any possible military option,” Reid said. “Second, if the Senate rejects this agreement, the international community will not support an attempt to secure another and they will not support the sanctions regime. Those are hard facts.”
Iran has threatened to destroy Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is vehemently opposed to the deal.
Reid said Israel’s security is “of utmost importance.” ”I support this deal because I believe it is the best option to halt any Iranian nuclear weapons program and therefore to protect the State of Israel,” he said.