How Democrats Will Pretend to Fight the Nuclear Deal

By John Podhoretz

New York Post

July 14, 2015

Fifty-nine days and counting: That’s where we are now when it comes to the Iran nuclear deal announced almost gleefully by President Obama on Tuesday morning.

Congress has 59 days to vote against it. If both Houses of Congress do so, the deal will have been rejected under the terms of the Iran Review Act. At this point, the president will use his veto.

And that’s when the real action will begin. For at that point, 67 senators and 290 members of the House will have to vote against it again to overturn his veto and kill the deal dead.

The killer hurdle will be getting 13 Democratic votes on top of 54 Republicans in the Senate. It’s hard to see that happening unless New York’s own Sen. Chuck Schumer goes to the mats against the president — a move that might doom Schumer’s own ambitions to be the next Democratic leader of the Senate.

So the president was probably right to be gleeful. The deal’s a nightmare for the world and a disaster for America, but as a practical political matter he may be home free despite Democratic congressional nerves about being blamed by history (and present and future voters) for allowing Iran to go nuclear.

At first glance, any Democrat should be terrified to vote for it. Nothing in the deal — nothing — keeps the Iranians from going nuclear.

No Iranian facility is being destroyed. Centrifuges will continue to spin at high levels. It’ll take 24 days for any UN inspector to be allowed in to see what is going on, which is more than enough time to hide bomb-advancing activity.

All it really promises is that, assuming the Iranians don’t cheat, they will need a year to get from the decision to make a bomb to making a bomb — and in eight years’ time they’ll be permitted to buy the ballistic missiles to deliver a nuclear strike.

The “year to make a bomb” is not good news for Democrats who want to support their president but don’t want to permit a nuclear Iran. But that’s where the smart structure of the deal comes in.

It’s full of temporizing numbers — no conventional weapons purchases for five years, no ballistic missile purchases for eight years, supposedly no weapons-grade uranium for 10 to 15 years.

These numbers suggest any crisis will happen in a future in which many current members of Congress will no longer be serving.  

This time-stretch will, I fear, be enough for many Democrats.

As for the rest, the structure of the Iran Review Act will be the president’s saving grace. Come September, there’ll be a series of votes cast in Washington in relation to the nuclear deal.

In the first vote, in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, the deal will be rejected. Then there’ll be two votes in the Senate — one to end debate on the measure (called cloture) followed by one on the bill itself.  

It takes 60 senators (or three-fifths of the body) to invoke “cloture.”

Republicans hold 54 seats in the Senate, so six Democrats will have to join them to bring a vote on the Iran deal to the Senate floor. In this case, all Democrats can join in voting to bring the bill to the floor — to show the process works and that Congress was properly consulted.

Then the Democratic caucus might be able to pull a fast one. To override Obama’s veto, opponents of the deal will need 13 Democrats to oppose it. So what if the deal remains unpopular and some Democrats feel they need to vote against it to stave off political trouble?

Among their number we would likely find Chuck Schumer, who’s fond of telling his fellow Jews that his family has been guarding the gates of Jerusalem for two millennia.

Now, Schumer’s fellow Democrats would surely forgive him that “no” vote — but they likely wouldn’t forgive him if he makes an all-out effort to rally the votes to override Obama’s veto.

Indeed, as many as 12 Democrats could theoretically receive a quiet blessing to vote against the president on the legislation — as long as that’s as far as it goes.

Obama will then veto the bill. At which point there aren’t enough Democratic votes to overturn his veto. And it goes through.

That’s why, even with substantial but effectively token Democratic opposition, I think the president is likely to win.

Humanity will lose.