Democrats Save Iran Deal Again; 3rd Round Awaits

Democrats repeat last week's deal support, but will be tested again - by having to vote against Israel recognition and release of Americans.

Nitsan Keidar ,

US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

Democrats in the US Senate on Tuesday were able to use their minority to thwart a second Republican attempt to block the Iran nuclear deal, after doing so previously last Thursday.

Republicans fell just short of the 60 votes needed to advance a bill of disapproval of the deal, with the total being 56-42. Republican presidential candidates Rand Paul and Lindsey Graham did not take part in the vote, causing the change in totals from last week's 58-42.

Only four Democrats broke ranks and again backed the vote against the Iran deal; they were Senators Chuck Schumer, Robert Menendez, Ben Cardin and Joe Manchin.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had called the vote, and warned that if it did not pass again - as indeed happened - he would call a third vote this week, likely on Thursday.

However, the third vote is to have a caveat - McConnell promised to add conditions to make the lack of scope in the deal more apparent and make Democratic opposition more unpopular.

"I will file on an amendment that would prevent the president from lifting sanctions until Iran meets two simple benchmarks: It must formally recognize Israel’s right to exist, and it must release the American citizens being held in Iranian custody," McConnell warned Tuesday just before the vote.

While Obama has avidly avoided having the deal about Iran's nuclear program at all connected to the Islamic regime's threats to destroy Israel or its rampant human rights violations, the Senator argued, "linkage is appropriate, and in this negotiation would have been wise."

The new vote disapproving of the Iran deal and stipulating the two aforementioned conditions will require 60 votes to pass. While Democrats can again block it, the new caveat will mean they will have to vote against recognition of Israel and the release of American prisoners in doing so.

"Democrats seem to think they can end the discussion by blocking an up-or-down vote, then turn around and pretend they care deeply about Israel and human rights,” McConnell said. “Well if they vote again to deny the American people a final vote, they’ll have a chance to test the theory."

At this point, the 42 Democrats in Senate supporting the Iran deal ensure that even if a bill were to be passed against the deal, Obama would have more than the 34 Senators needed for a 1/3 minority that would sustain a presidential veto and force the deal through.

Republicans are continuing to fight the deal, with moves being initiated in the Senate to sue Obama for not giving Congress access to classified side deals between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in their review period, and demanding the review period be restarted as a result.

Those side deals stipulate among other things that Iran will inspect its own covert nuclear site of Parchin without international inspectors being allowed. At the site Iran has reportedly conducted nuclear detonator experiments.