Jewish Democrat Cardin opposes Iran deal after Senate approval in hand

Sen. Ben Cardin. Credit: U.S. Senate.

( U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), who is Jewish and serves as the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, announced Friday that he will vote against the Iran nuclear deal.

“This is a close call, but after a lengthy review, I will vote to disapprove the deal,” Cardin wrote in an op-ed for The Washington Post

“We must stand firm in our determination to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon,” he wrote. “We must agree to counter Iranian support for terrorism and confront Iranian violations of ballistic missile protocols and international human rights obligations. Congress and the administration cannot dwell on past disagreements; together we must find a functional, bipartisan approach to Iran.” 

Cardin’s decision, however, came after the Obama administration had already secured the 34 Senate votes necessary to block an override of a presidential veto of Congressional rejection of the deal. Nevertheless, Cardin’s “no” vote hurts the White House’s chances of gaining 41 votes in support of the agreement, which would enable Senate Democrats to filibuster and prevent President Barack Obama from needing to use his veto power. Six Democratic senators remain undecided on the deal. 

Before Cardin, the only Senate Democrats to publicly oppose the deal were Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) and Robert Menendez (N.J.). The other Democratic U.S. senator from New Jersey, Cory Booker, disappointed his Jewish friends and pro-Israel leaders on Thursday when he came out in favor of what he called a “flawed” deal. 

“Make no mistake, this deal, while falling short of permanently eliminating Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon, succeeds in either delaying it or giving us the credible ability to detect significant cheating on their part and respond accordingly,” Booker said.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who has been friends with Booker for more than 20 years, called the senator’s decision a “troubling and tragic choice.”

Posted on September 4, 2015 .