MINNEAPOLIS -- Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz prevented consideration of a resolution at the party’s summer meeting here that praised President Obama and offered backing for the nuclear agreement with Iran, according to knowledgeable Democrats.
The resolution was drafted with the intention of putting the national committee on record in support of the agreement as Congress prepares to take up the issue when members return from their August recess.
As a fallback, James Zogby, the co-chair of the Resolutions Committee, led a move to prepare a letter of support for the president and the Iran agreement that eventually gained signatures from a sizable majority of the members of the national committee. Zogby said Saturday that, in the end, this produced a satisfactory outcome.
“We wanted to show support for the president,” he said. “We found that the best way to show support was a letter that members would sign on to, and the overwhelming majority of DNC members signed onto the letter. This is the President Obama we elected in 2008 who said, ‘I choose diplomacy over conflict,’ and he did it.”
A party spokeswoman and said procedural issues prevented the proposed resolution from being considered. She did not directly address Wasserman Schultz’s role in the decision-making. Other Democrats said that it was congresswoman’s direct opposition that blocked its consideration.
The Iran agreement faces strong Republican — and some Democratic opposition — in Congress. The president has been working to line up enough votes to assure that he can prevent an override of an expected veto if there is a vote to disapprove the agreement.
Wasserman Schultz, who represents a heavily Jewish congressional district in south Florida, has not taken a position on the agreement. She faces significant pressure to break with the president and oppose the deal and has been undertaking her own review before announcing her position.
Vice President Biden did a conference call with members of the DNC on Wednesday in an effort to promote support for the Iran agreement. Next week he will travel to Wasserman Schultz’s congressional district to meet with Jewish leaders as part of the same effort.
Wasserman Schultz’s situation is similar to that of Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who is a member of the Senate leadership but who nonetheless announced his opposition to the nuclear agreement — to the consternation of many in his party.
Some Democrats on the national committee who were unhappy that the resolution did not come up for consideration said that, as DNC chair, Wasserman Schultz owed her allegiance in this instance to the president, regardless of her own local political considerations.
Public consideration of the resolution at the DNC meeting, however, could have prompted a contentious public debate within the party just as the president is looking to consolidate Democrats behind the agreement, a factor that was noted in a Buzz Feed story about the way events unfolded here.
The text of the letter that was circulated and signed by DNC members said, in part: “We recognize that there are some who in good faith have expressed reservations with elements of the JCPOA but we believe that you and key members of your administration have effectively and respectfully responded to these concerns. We, therefore, join you [President Obama] in supporting the JCPOA as the best way forward to secure our nation, our allies, and world peace.”
No one on the DNC had prepared a resolution on Iran for consideration at the summer meeting ahead of the Aug. 6 deadline for such measures to be submitted to the resolutions committee. In Minneapolis, Zogby proposed that such a resolution be taken up under emergency procedures that allow late-arriving measures to be voted on by the national committee.
But the DNC spokeswoman, who declined to be identified to describe internal deliberations, said emergency resolutions are usually reserved for things have happened between the time of the deadline and the party meeting. She said the DNC executive committee, which is charged with dealing with such late-breaking resolutions, took no action on the Iran measure.