Opinion writer

Over the weekend, Senator Jeff Merkley came out in support of the Iran nuclear deal. That means a total of 33 Senators either back the agreement or are leaning towards supporting it — one away from the 34 that supporters need to ensure that the deal goes forward.

The latest whip count has 31 Senators now declared in support of the deal. Two more — Joe Manchin and Richard Blumenthal — are leaning towards backing it. That’s 33. There are 11 more Democrats who are undecided. If Manchin and Blumenthal back the deal, supporters need only one more of that 11 to get the 34 necessary to sustain President Obama’s veto of the expected GOP measure disapproving of the agreement.

What’s more, if supporters get eight of those 11 undecided Senators, Republicans will fail to break the Dem filibuster of the disapproval measure, meaning no veto — and no veto override fight — would be necessary. That means opponents need to get four of the 11 in order to force that override battle.

Politico reports that AIPAC and other opponents of the deal who spent big bucks to block it simply failed to create the hellish August for Dems that they had promised. Politico also notes that the votes also appear to be there to sustain the veto in the House, and that opponents are now fighting hard not to block the deal, but simply to force that override battle:

Privately, Republican aides acknowledge they are “very close” to losing any ability to block the deal, but those leading the pricey outside effort to bring down the deal refuse to concede defeat. They want, at least, to get six more Senate Democrats to agree to pass the disapproval resolution and delay implementation of the deal.

The key point here is that the question of whether there will be an override fight isn’t simply about whether supporters will be able to declare a decisive victory if one is avoided (though they would be) or whether opponents will be able to salvage a limited victory for face-saving purposes. Supporters worry that there could be potentially serious long-term consequences for the deal if a veto battle is necessary: it could further sow public doubts about the agreement and perhaps signal to our allies a lack of U.S. commitment to it.

As I reported last week, top Democrats are also privately worried that if it becomes clear that sustaining the veto is a certainty, some undecided Dems might feel freed up to oppose it for their own political reasons — making that override fight more likely. And that’s why supporters are urging those undecided Democrats to appreciate that their vote for the deal is still needed — even if it’s clear that a veto would be sustained — because it could help avert the consequences that would come with a veto-override battle.


* WALKER SUPPORTERS DEMAND REBOOT: As Scott Walker continues dropping in Iowa, a must-win for him, the Post talks to his supporters and finds they want Walker to reboot and get back to his old self again:

These supporters say what is needed now is a return to basics, a more disciplined focus on the issues Walker long has championed in Wisconsin. …They miss the Midwestern candidate who focused on economic issues like weakening public unions, making painful cuts to the budget and reducing taxes by more than $2 billion.

Wait, boasting about crushing public employees and taking on hecklers while tip-toeing gingerly around Trump’s immigration demagoguery isn’t getting it done?

* SANDERS SURGING IN IOWA: A new Des Moines Register poll generated lots of weekend chatter: It found Hillary Clinton now only leading Bernie Sanders by 37-30 among likely Dem Iowa caucus-goers. Remove Joe Biden from the mix and Clinton leads by 43-35. Note this:

Sanders…has become a liberal Pied Piper in Iowa not as a vote against Clinton, but because caucus-goers genuinely like him, the poll shows. An overwhelming 96 percent of his backers say they support him and his ideas. Just 2 percent say they’re motivated by opposition to Clinton.

This perhaps suggests that if Clinton does win, Sanders supporters would likely get behind her.

* TRUMP SURGING IN IOWA: The new Des Moines Register poll also finds Trump leading the GOP field in Iowa, with 23 percent, while all other major candidates are in single digits. And:

Trump has pulled off a reversal in how caucusgoers view him. In May, his favorability was upside down: Just 27 percent viewed him favorably and 63 percent unfavorably. Now, it’s 61 percent favorable, 35 percent unfavorable.

Since May, Trump has insulted John McCain’s military service, called Mexican immigrants “rapists,” and vowed to build a wall on the Mexican border, deport 11 million people, and end birthright citizenship.


Would you support or oppose major new spending by the federal government that would help undergraduates pay tuition at public colleges without needing loans?

Americans support it by 61-31, despite wording (“major new federal spending”) that might be expected to tilt people against it. Not surprisingly, Republicans are the only group who oppose this (56-39).

* AMERICANS WOULD BLAME REPUBLICANS FOR SHUTDOWN: With a possible government shutdown looming, the new Quinnipiac poll also finds that 41 percent would blame Republicans in Congress for that outcome, while 33 percent would blame Obama and Democrats in Congress, and 17 percent would blame both equally.

Of course, if Ted Cruz and other conservatives robotically repeat hundreds of times over the next few weeks that “it’s really Democrats who are shutting down the government,” surely opinion will shift dramatically.

* THERE MAY BE NO ALTERNATIVE TO IRAN DEAL: E.J. Dionne has a good column arguing that backers of the Iran deal have framed the question about what to do about Iran in exactly the right way, in the process making the case for foreign policy “realism”:

The notion that the United States could go back and renegotiate for something even tougher is laughable, because this is not simply a U.S.-Iran deal. It also involves allies who strongly back what’s on the table. Suggesting that the old sanctions on Iran could be restored is absurd for the same reason: Our partners would bridle if the United States disowned what it has agreed to already.The administration’s core challenge to its critics is: “What is the alternative?” It is not a rhetorical question.

Thus, if Congress blocks the Iran deal, it could have a whole series of terrible consequences. I would add that Democrats who oppose it would also own those consequences.

* AND JEB KEEPS TRYING TO COUNTER TRUMP WITH REASON: Jeb Bush tries yet again to challenge Donald Trump on immigration:

“What Donald Trump is proposing is a wall that can’t be built, and if it was, it would cost hundreds of billions of dollars,” he said, citing Trump’s call for a wall on America’s border with Mexico. “He wants everyone deported, which would tear family lives asunder,” Bush said. “It would probably be unconstitutional.”

Sorry, Jeb. Trump’s supporters prefer the tale he is telling.