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Momentum builds for Iran nuclear deal

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., discusses the Iran nuclear agreement during his speech at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015. Lawmakers returning to Washington from their summer recess are plunging immediately into bitter, partisan debate over the Iran nuclear accord. The deal struck by Iran, the U.S. and five world powers in July is aimed at curbing Iran's nuclear program in exchange for hundreds of billions of dollars in relief for economic sanctions. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid  (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

The Iran nuclear deal is taking center stage in the presidential campaign as the agreement gains steam on Capitol Hill and lawmakers prepare for what could be the most consequential foreign policy vote of their careers.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton plans a speech Wednesday in Washington to support the deal. Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz and other conservatives, including former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, are headlining an anti-deal rally on the lawn of the Capitol.

The House, returning from summer recess, is expected to vote on a resolution of disapproval this week. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California, who is working hard to bolster support for the deal, has invited ambassadors from the other five nations in the agreement to talk Wednesday with House Democrats. They also are expected to meet with Secretary of State John Kerry, a lead negotiator of the accord.

Joined by military veterans, several dozen House Democrats gathered Tuesday evening on the steps of the Capitol to show their support for the deal with Iran. Sounding a familiar theme, they said the agreement is about verification, not trust.

“Tonight we stand, members of Congress, on the steps of the Capitol, as members totally committed to preventing a nuclear-armed Iran,” Pelosi said.

It’s unclear exactly what’s going to happen in the Senate. As of Tuesday, 42 Democratic and independent senators had announced support of the deal — one more vote than needed to block passage of a resolution of disapproval and hand President Barack Obama a major foreign policy victory.

What remains unclear is whether all 42 would vote to filibuster and thus prevent the resolution of disapproval from reaching the Senate floor altogether.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and an author of the legislation to allow Congress to review the deal, is adamant that the Senate vote on the merits of the deal.

“With 98 senators on the record voting in support of the legislation, I am very disappointed that some members on the other side of the aisle are reversing their positions and now are threatening to filibuster to keep the Senate from voting on this consequential agreement with Iran,” Corker said.

Although the wheels of Congress are turning in favor of the president, those opposed are launching an all-out push against the deal. Several hundred members of a pro-Israel lobby are to be at the Capitol to urge lawmakers to reject the deal with Iran, which has threatened to destroy the Jewish state.

The agreement struck by Iran, the U.S. and five other world powers in July will provide Iran hundreds of billions of dollars in relief from international sanctions in exchange for a decade of constraints on its nuclear program.


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