- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 5, 2015

Democrats will try to mount a filibuster to block the Iran nuclear deal from even having to reach President Obama’s desk for a veto, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid signaled Saturday in a statement.

He and his party colleagues already have enough committed supporters that they would be able to sustain an Obama veto and allow the Iran deal to proceed, but a filibuster would be an even bigger coup, halting the issue earlier in the process and heading off a protracted — and potentially politically costly — veto fight.

“I recently informed Senator McConnell that after a period of robust debate, Democrats would be happy to proceed straight to a final passage vote that is consistent with Senator McConnell’s many statements that important matters in the Senate have ‘for quite some time required 60 votes.’ The choice is up to him,” Mr. Reid said, referencing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

A surge of support for Mr. Obama’s stance this week has put Democrats well over the 34 votes needed to guarantee upholding the veto, and they are now within striking distance of the 41 votes that would guarantee a filibuster, too.

The latest count from the Bipartisan Policy Center puts them at 38 supporters — 36 Democrats and two liberal-leaning independents.

Just 33 senators have announced their opposition, and 29 have yet to give an official stance. Most of those are Republicans who are expected to try to defeat the deal, but five remain Democrats remain publicly uncommitted.

In his statement, Mr. Reid taunted Mr. McConnell, who led repeated filibusters while Democrats controlled the chamber from 2007 through the end of 2014. Mr. McConnell said big issues required a 60-vote threshold associated with overcoming filibusters.

The Iran debate is slated to begin Tuesday, as Congress returns from a long summer vacation.

Under the terms of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, passed earlier this year, Congress has a chance to look over the deal Mr. Obama and other international leaders signed with the Islamic Republic, designed to halt that country’s apparent march toward nuclear weapons.

The law gives Congress the chance to disapprove of the deal, but that bill then goes to Mr. Obama, who wields a veto. It takes a two-thirds vote of each chamber to override the veto, and if a bill were to get that far, supporters of the deal would face intense pressure from pro-Israeli lobbying groups.

But a filibuster would nip the process earlier, preventing a chance for the lobbying to kick into high gear and avoiding the need for Democrats to cast more politically fraught votes.

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