New York Senator Chuck Schumer announced on Friday that he would oppose the nuclear deal with Iran. The Jewish Senior Senator has spent considerable time and energy in his attempts to divide Republican lawmakers, but this most recent decision has created a rift in his own party.
One of the most influential lawmakers in Congress, Schumer is risking his political future by going against the Obama Administration. His stance on the nuclear deal may destroy his chances of becoming the Minority Leader when Senator Harry Reid retires.
Schumer faces considerable opposition from fellow Democrats and has become a target for MoveOn.org, a leftwing group that plans to withhold $11,000,000 in campaign donations from any lawmaker “who succeeds in sabotaging diplomacy.”
MoveOn.org Executive Director llya Sheyman is just one of many to call Schumer a warmonger. “While Sen. Schumer’s decision is not unexpected, it is outrageous and unacceptable that any Democrat — especially one who wants to lead his caucus — would side with Republican partisans, war hawks and neoconservative ideologues who are trying to scrap this agreement and put us on the path to war,” she said.
Schumer’s opinion of the nuclear deal is a huge blow to President Obama, who has struggled since day one to sell his proposal to lawmakers. “Unfortunately, a large portion of the Republican Party, if not a near unanimous portion of Republican representatives, are going to be opposed to anything that I do,” said Obama on NPR. He expected a small percentage of Democrats to oppose to the agreement, but noted that “a sizeable portion of the Republicans were opposed before the ink was even dry.”
Senator Claire McCaskill isn’t worried about Schumer. She doesn’t believe that other Democrats will be swayed by his opinion. “I don’t think any of [us] feel pressure, either by Chuck Schumer’s rejection of this deal or the president’s full-throated support of this deal,” she said Sunday on NBC. Former presidential advisor Dan Pfeiffer supported her opinion with a Twitter post: “The base won’t support a leader who thought Obamacare was a bad idea and wants war with Iran.”
Other Democrats aren’t so confident. A few notable members of the House have already decided to stand with Schumer, including NY Representative and member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Eliot Engel.
Even if Congress votes to disapprove the nuclear deal, Obama will have the chance to veto. In that case, Capitol Hill will need a two-thirds vote to override.
Schumer’s decision is a huge success for all those in opposition to the deal because it proves that not everyone against the deal is – as the Obama administration claimed – an extremist looking for war.
According to a recent poll by Monmouth University, less than 30% of Americans support the deal and only 14% think the US is the “winner” of the agreement. However, nearly 50% are undecided.
Congress will make a decision next month when it returns from summer recess.