The Israeli government and its long-arm, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), were handed a major defeat on Thursday, as the Senate blocked a resolution of disapproval from coming to the floor for a vote.
Senate Republicans failed to prevent the Democrats from filibustering a resolution of disapproval on the Iran nuclear deal after all of the 42 Senators who support the deal voted “no” on cloture — a procedural hurdle that will require opponents of the deal to get 60 votes to move forward on the resolution. Republicans failed to get 60 votes in favor, which means that the president will be free to move forward with the agreement with no need to veto a congressional disapproval of the deal.
President Barack Obama welcomed the vote, saying it was a victory “for diplomacy, for American national security, and for the safety and security of the world.”
“I am heartened that so many senators judged this deal on the merits, and am gratified by the strong support of lawmakers and citizens alike,” Obama said in a statement.
J Street, a liberal pro-Israel and pro-peace group, rushed to welcome the “end to the uncertainty surrounding the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)” following the vote.
“As strong supporters of the Iran nuclear agreement, J Street is pleased that President Obama will not be required to exercise his veto power in order to move forward with its implementation,” said J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami. “The wide and vocal backing the President has received from his party in Congress has sent a clear message to the world that the United States is ready and able to honor its international commitments.”
But AIPAC spinned the vote, claiming that while failing to reach the 60-vote threshold, a majority of Senators voted to favor a vote of disapproval of the deal.
“By a solid, bipartisan majority, the Senate today made it clear that it rejects the profoundly flawed nuclear deal with Iran,” the group said in a statement. “While the American people deserved a direct up or down vote on the resolution of disapproval, the fifty-eight senators who spoke out against the agreement and voted to invoke cloture succeeded in their effort to express opposition to the deal. AIPAC applauds the senators who supported moving to a vote on final passage of the resolution of disapproval. We urge those who have blocked a vote today to reconsider.”
“By its vote today, the Senate has sent a strong message to the world that the American people are deeply skeptical about Iran’s willingness to meet its commitments and the long-term viability of this agreement,” the AIPAC statement read.
Meanwhile, in an email Thursday afternoon, AIPAC CEO Howard Kohr asked members to call House members and urge them to oppose Friday’s resolution of approval.
The House of Representatives cleared three bills related to the Iran nuclear deal for debate on Thursday, voting to approve rules for debating the three measures, none of which will have a direct impact on the nuclear agreement. There were 243 votes for, all from Republicans, on the procedural vote and 186 against, all from Democrats.