Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri could cast a pivotal vote on a bill that the White House has said violates President Barack Obama’s right to conduct foreign policy, and could effectively kill the nuclear deal with Iran.
Introduced by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, would require congressional review of any Iranian nuclear deal and prohibit the lifting of sanctions for at least 60 days.
White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough warned in a letter to Corker last month that the bill could have a “profoundly negative impact on the ongoing negotiations” and “potentially prevent any deal from succeeding.”
The bill now appears to be one vote shy a veto-proof majority in the Senate. And McCaskill, a moderate Democrat, is on the fence.
She is one of a handful of centrist Democrats who has bucked her party before on votes crucial to Republicans’ agenda in the Senate – or to Democratic efforts to block the GOP. Recently, she sided with Republicans in a failed attempt to override Obama’s veto of a bill approving construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline.
Republicans need 13 Democrats to vote with them to reach the 67-vote threshold to overcome a presidential veto.
So far, eight Democrats and one Independent who votes with the Democrats, Sen. Angus King of Maine, have signed on as cosponsors of the Iran bill, including Bill Nelson, D-Fla., and Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. Three additional Democrats have indicated they’d support it: Sens. Mark Warner of Virginia, Ben Cardin of Maryland, and Christopher Coons of Delaware.
McCaskill is waiting to see a final draft of the legislation before committing one way or another, her spokesman said, a position that could make her the target of intense lobbying from both Republicans and the Obama administration.
“Without knowing what legislation will come out of the Foreign Relations Committee, Claire’s reserving judgment until we see that product,” said John LaBombard, McCaskill’s spokesman.