By: Danielle Apfel
The ever-popular topic of discussion, the nuclear deal with Iran, has once again been thrust into the light. This past Thursday it was leaked, and finally confirmed today, that NY Senator Chuck Schumer would not be supporting the current deal.
As has become common knowledge, Congress has 60 days, from the time that President Obama introduced the new Deal, to pass legislation either supporting or denying the nuclear deal with Iran. This agreement has brought an onslaught of controversy and debate, both between the major parties, and even amongst a single party.
Due to the sensitivity of this agreement, the Corker-Cardin agreement was implemented, which required that Congress would have to pass legislation in opposition to the deal, rather than simply not agree to it (as is how treaty confirmations typically occur). It is imperative therefore that President Obama appeals to as many Congressmen and women as possible in order to ensure they vote in favor of passing the new agreement. However, as this is a hugely controversial and misunderstood deal, finding support has not been easy.
While typically matters of legislation, throughout Obama’s time in office, have been wrought with bi-partisan politics and an almost refusal to cooperate across party lines, the possibility of this nuclear deal with Iran has caused even more strife down in Washington. Rather than contend with the almost expected polarization of the parties, President Obama, as well as Secretary of State John Kerry, have had to face resistance within the Democratic Party itself. Fighting for support amongst Republican leaders was difficult enough as it was, but it appears that the fight must continue within the President’s own party.
Senator Schumer stands as the most influential Democratic leader to oppose the deal. Though he is not alone amongst Democrats, including but not limited to NY Representatives Steve Israel and Eliot Engel, he is catching the public’s attention for standing out against Party voting lines. Despite the controversy surrounding this decision, Schumer has continued to receive praise from similar Republican opponents, as well as constituents, for voting his conscious rather than for politics.
Unlike many prominent Republican leaders who oppose this deal however, Schumer has actually laid out what specifically he is dissatisfied with, and explains his opposition instead of simply disagreeing with the deal as a whole. Schumer has stated that his dissatisfaction with the deal stems from inability for “anywhere, any time” inspections, the ability to form a threshold nuclear state after 10 years, and potential to fund terrorist groups, such as Hezbollah. Schumer does still firmly believe in the benefits of negotiations, but feels that the risks of a government turnover in Iran far outweigh diplomacy.
As one of the most prominent Jewish leaders in the country, Schumer has to consider how his constituents feel, as Iran has outwardly spoken against Israel. Regardless of legitimacy of such threats, there is no denying, nor belittling, their presence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
It was in fact speculated that this decision could have some impact on Senator Schumer’s ability to gain a leadership role within the Senate in the next election. However, Schumer firmly believes that his decision to vote his conscious will be respected rather than criticized.
Though his vote against the Iranian Deal stands in the way of rallying the Democrats to Obama’s side, it is refreshing to see a member of Congress vote, on a matter that has become a national debate, for their own morals, values, or conscious rather than simply along party lines.