Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Denver Post: Bennet Backs Deal

Sen. Michael Bennet
Mark Matthews of the Denver Post followed Senator Michael Bennet’s late decision to back President Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran for several weeks. The announcement took final shape on Friday, September 4, and included joining with Maryland Democratic Senator Ben Cardin
to propose a legislative package to protect Israel. Cardin, a late decider like Bennet, came out against the agreement, only one of four Democratic senators.

My quote to Matthews pointed out that the legislative package and support for the agreement was both good policy in Bennet’s view, but also smart politics.
“As a good politician, (Bennet) is addressing both — what he thinks is the foreign policy component of this as well as the domestic politics,” said Floyd Ciruli, a Denver-based political analyst.
Sen. Ben Cardin
The administration won a substantial victory against a formidable opponent. When the agreement was presented to Congress in July, the agreed process for review already made it near impossible to stop. The Corker-Cardin legislation, which passed with Democratic support, was designed to allow a vote to disagree, which the president can veto. Hence, the threshold that allows the agreement to proceed is only 34 votes.

However, during much of July and August, it was unclear the President could muster 34 votes. He could only afford to lose eleven, and there were more than dozen undecided with two declared against (Schumer and Menendez).

A massive lobby effort, mostly led by Jewish-American interest, used television and other advertising in states with undecided senators. With Republican unanimous opposition, the dozen or so Democrats, including Bennet, were the target.

But ultimately, the President and his allies made the case that our allies were not going to re-negotiate the deal. They believed that was the best that could be achieved. And the alternative of no deal allowed Iran and its hard liners to proceed to nuclear weapons, likely with substantial sanction relief from the EU and others. Obama wins with 42 votes, including Bennet’s.

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