Senate Democrats Preserve the Iran Deal

The Thursday vote blocking a resolution of disapproval ensures that President Obama will be able to implement the nuclear accord.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

Congress can’t kill the Iran deal.

Senate Democrats made sure of that on Thursday afternoon, holding firm with President Obama as they blocked Republicans from bringing a resolution disapproving the nuclear agreement up for a final vote. All but four Democrats supported the deal, and the vote was 58-42—just shy of the 60 needed to break a filibuster.

Mitch McConnell, the frustrated majority leader, vowed to bring the measure back up for another vote next week, but his Democratic counterpart, Harry Reid, said it would make no difference. “This matter is over,” Reid said. “You can continue to re-litigate it, but it’s going to have the same result.” The vote was not a surprise: Democrats had been breaking in favor of the accord all summer, and earlier this week they clinched the votes needed to prevent the disapproval motion from reaching Obama’s desk. The measure might not even come up for a vote in House, as Republicans in the lower chamber are instead threatening to sue the administration for withholding information about secret “side deals” from Congress in violation of the law.

“This vote is a victory for diplomacy, for American national security, and for the safety and security of the world,” Obama said a statement responding to the vote.

For nearly two years, we negotiated from a position of strength to reach an agreement that meets our core objectives. Since we concluded these negotiations, we have had the most consequential national security debate since the decision to invade Iraq more than a decade ago. Over the last several weeks, the more members studied the details of this deal, the more they came out in support. Today, I am heartened that so many Senators judged this deal on the merits, and am gratified by the strong support of lawmakers and citizens alike.

The entire debate has been something of a odd spectacle. With no chance of winning an actual endorsement from the Republican Congress, supporters of the administration have been cheering the failure of its critics to derail the deal, which would have been an historic and exceedingly rare repudiation of a president’s foreign policy. Seizing on that dynamic, McConnell wondered on Thursday why Democrats didn’t allow the resolution to proceed, so Obama could hold what he called “a veto party” on the White House lawn.

“Break out the champagne,” McConnell said with sarcastic derision. “Celebrate. Take credit for it. You own it.”