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Obama's Iran nuclear deal is close to going forward

TO GO WITH AFP STORY US-SYRIA-IRAQ-CONFLICT-UN-DIPLOMACYJIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

Obama needs only one more vote from the Senate to have enough support to stop lawmakers from blocking the Iran nuclear deal.

WASHINGTON — President Obama is poised to lock down the votes to ensure opponents can’t block his nuclear deal with Iran, leaving congressional votes this month on the deal a formality, even as political fallout continues.

Democratic Sens. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Chris Coons of Delaware on Tuesday became the 32nd and 33rd senators to announce support for the deal, just one shy of the 34 Senate votes needed to uphold an Obama veto of legislation aimed at blocking it.

“This agreement will substantially constrain the Iranian nuclear program for its duration, and compared with all realistic alternatives, it is the best option available to us at this time,” Casey said in a statement.

Both Casey and Coons were among the dwindling number of truly undecided Democrats that opponents of deal thought they could convince to oppose it.

U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn) also announced support for the deal Tuesday.

“Upholding the agreement and affirming the diplomatic path that has been charted represents the best course of action to prevent Iran from weaponizing its uranium and plutonium stockpiles,” Jeffries said in a lengthy statement.

His announcement follows recent statements Monday supporting the deal by three other minority House representatives from New York City: Reps. Yvette Clarke, Gregory Meeks, and Nydia Velazquez.

STAND ALONE PHOTOMatt Rourke/AP

Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., is among the lawmakers to support the Iran nuclear deal.

Backers of the agreement appear set to have the votes in both chambers to prevent opponents of the deal from overriding a presidential veto of a resolution that blocks the deal.

Under the agreement, the U.S. and other countries agree to remove economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for the Islamic Republic agreeing to inspections of key nuclear sites and renouncing ambition to build nuclear weapons.

Republicans unanimously oppose the deal. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opposes it, with many right-leaning Jewish groups joining in opposition.

But critics have failed to turn the tide against the deal. Only two Democratic senators, New Jersey’s Robert Menendez and New York’s Chuck Schumer, have opposed the accord.

Critics’ hope that Schumer’s stance would encourage other Democrats to oppose the agreement has fizzled.

Earlier Tuesday Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, predicted that Obama have 34 Senate votes by week’s end. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) appears likely to announce soon that she will also support the deal.

Opponents are left working to reverse the decision of deal supporters, or to impose political costs on them for their stances.

On Monday evening, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and former Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) will join a rally outside the Manhattan office of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who supports the agreement.

They are urging Gillibrand to change her mind.

With News Wire Services

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dfriedman@nydailynews.com

Tags:
barack obama ,
iran nuclear deal

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