Opinion writer

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.)  (Yamil Lagey/AFP via Getty Images)

The four Democrats in the Senate and 25 in the House who defied partisan politics to register disapproval of the Iran deal deserve praise. Obviously, the marching orders in the White House’s well-oiled machine were to deny opponents a large bipartisan victory. The White House failed in that regard, largely due to the courageous Democrats who refused to be bullied into supporting a rotten deal.

Among the most important of the 29 lawmakers was Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.). As the successor to Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.),  he continued the bipartisanship Menendez had established first as chairman and then ranking member. In his floor speech Cardin declared:

I was unable to support this agreement because it legitimizes Iran’s nuclear program, providing a rogue state and major sponsor of terrorism with an international endorsement of an industrial-scale nuclear program. Iran has violated its nonproliferation obligations for years, yet we will be handing them the eventual ability to legally produce enough enriched fuel for a nuclear weapon with a dangerously short breakout time. Iran will be in a stronger financial position once this agreement moves forward, allowing them to better withstand future economic pressures and making the snap-back of sanctions – if and when Iran cheats on this agreement – a difficult proposition and a less-than-effective deterrent. . . . My votes on this issue are based on my personal analysis and reflect a decision of conscience, not partisan politics.

Equally as important was his call for further action: “We must work to counter Iran-sponsored terrorism, confront Iranian violations of ballistic missile protocols, assist Israel in her fight for peace and security, and speak out against Iranian human rights violations.” That will necessitate renewal of existing sanctions, new sanctions for Iran’s human rights violations and regional aggression and monitoring of the aggression. If Cardin can be part of a bipartisan, veto-proof majority to take these needed steps he, perhaps, can break the grasp of rank partisanship that gripped 42 of his colleagues and begin to repair the damage the president has done to our national security and our alliances.

For all this, we can say, well done, Senator Cardin.