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Democrats ensure smooth sailing for Obama's Iran initiative

world Updated: Sep 13, 2015 21:40 IST
Yashwant Raj

Senate Democrats made sure Thursday President Barack Obama won’t have to use his veto power to protect his most ambitious foreign policy initiative yet, the Iran deal, from its opponents.

They scuttled a move by Republicans, who control the Senate, to consider a resolution — not to approve or disapprove, which would require another vote later — rejecting the deal. But Republican members of the House of Representatives — the party controls this chamber as well — are not giving up. They have said they may file a lawsuit against the deal.

India has welcomed the deal and as a major buyer of Iranian crude oil, it will be closely monitoring the situation leading up to the lifting of sanctions and normalization of trade ties. US congress has until September 17, next week, — 60 days after being officially notified of the deal — to consider it and vote to approve or disapprove it. It cannot kill it.

If it disapproves, the president can veto it. It will then need two-thirds of its members’ support to override him. Opponents of the deal have lost that race already. Republicans, who had vowed as a party, to oppose the deal and kill it, did not, however, have the votes to do that on their own. They needed Democrats, and some of them did cross over.

But, in the end, the remaining Democrats held firm to, first, deny Republicans the votes they needed to override Obama’s veto, which the president was prepared to exercise. And then, second, they rallied together to block Republicans from even considering a resolution to approve or disapprove it — which would have given them some succor.

The Iran deal becomes now the second Obama initiative to pass congress without Republican support. The first was his Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare. Democrats, who controlled both chambers then, passed it without the support of Republicans, who remain opposed to it and continue to find ways to repeal it. All 17 Republicans running for the White House have vowed to repeal the healthcare law if elected, and tear up the Iran deal on their first day in office. Until then, however, they are both safe.