Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, considered the most influential vote in the debate over authorizing the Iranian peace deal, announced late Thursday that he will not support the deal approved by President Barack Obama.
“After deep study, careful thought and considerable soul-searching, I have decided I must oppose the agreement and will vote yes on a motion of disapproval,” Schumer wrote in a post to website Medium.
“I will vote to disapprove the agreement, not because I believe war is a viable or desirable option, nor to challenge the path of diplomacy,” Schumer said. “It is because I believe Iran will not change, and under this agreement it will be able to achieve its dual goals of eliminating sanctions while ultimately retaining its nuclear and non-nuclear power.”
Schumer’s position as a well-known Jewish Democrat in the U.S. Senate and the likeliness that he will take the leadership position currently occupied by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada once Reid retires in January 2017 also likely played a role in Schumer’s long-awaited stance on the controversial topic.
New York’s junior senator, Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand, said she will support Obama’s deal with Iran. In nearby New Hampshire, Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen also revealed her support for the deal, CNN reported.
Another key New York Democrat also announced his opposition to the deal after weeks of debate. Rep. Eliot Engel, another prominent voice of the Jewish-American community, revealed his decision shortly after Schumer on Thursday night.
Schumer insisted that his decision was not meant to influence other voters.
“There are some who believe that I can force my colleagues to vote my way,” Schumer wrote in his statement. “While I will certainly share my view and try to persuade them that the vote to disapprove is the right one, in my experience with matters of conscience and great consequence like this, each member ultimately comes to their own conclusion.”
Schumer also explained his thought process in coming to his decision to oppose the deal.
“I examined this deal in three parts: nuclear restrictions on Iran in the first 10 years, nuclear restrictions on Iran after 10 years, and nonnuclear components and consequences of a deal,” Schumer wrote. “In each case I have asked: Are we better off with the agreement or without it?”
The Obama administration was counting on Schumer’s support and influence to maintain the votes needed to block an override of the President’s expected veto on the initial vote to disapprove the deal. While 15 Senate Democrats have come together so far, the White House needs at least 34 members of their own party to succeed in blocking bipartisan efforts to vote down the deal, the New York Times noted.
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