President Barack Obama has secured the support of 34 Senate Democrats for the nuclear deal with Iran, ensuring sufficient backing to sustain his veto of any legislation aimed at derailing the agreement. Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland on Wednesday became the 34th Senate lawmaker to announce that she's supporting the deal negotiated with Iran and world powers earlier this year.
Even before the international nuclear agreement with Iran was announced, Republicans expressed optimism about derailing the policy. Indeed, some seemed to think it'd be easy.
To pass a bill killing the diplomatic solution, Republicans would need only six Senate Democrats and zero House Democrats. President Obama would obviously veto the legislation, but GOP leaders believed it was entirely possible to pick up the 13 Senate Dems and 44 House Dems needed to override. Indeed, Congress' August recess offered a perfect opportunity -- opponents of the agreement would mount an intense pressure campaign while spending millions to shift the national debate.
Just so long as 34 Senate Democrat didn't endorse the policy, the right had reason to hope. This morning, the 34th Senate Democrat endorsed the policy.
In a statement, the progressive Maryland senator, who's retiring at the end of her term, said, "No deal is perfect, especially one negotiated with the Iranian regime. I have concluded that this Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is the best option available to block Iran from having a nuclear bomb."
There are still 10 Senate Dems who have not yet taken a position, but even if each of them side with Republicans -- an unlikely scenario -- the right will simply not have the votes to derail the diplomatic agreement.
Indeed, if 7 of those 10 Senate Democrats endorse the Iran deal, then the search for a veto-proof majority becomes a moot point -- the bill won't even have the support needed to clear the Senate and reach the Oval Office.
It's worth noting that the vote hasn't actually happened yet, so while the support is now in place for a major victory for President Obama, proponents of the agreement should keep the champagne on ice. It's always possible a member could change his or her mind. If there were some kind of international incident involving Iran between now and the vote, the calculus would obviously change.
For now, however, it's a breakthrough moment for American foreign policy.
As opponents of the policy take stock, I continue to believe Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and AIPAC made a costly strategic error, while Republican presidential candidates are missing an opportunity to use the Iran deal to their advantage.
There's a fine art to losing well. Opponents of the diplomatic agreement are blowing it.