The White House dispatched Vice President Joe Biden to Capitol Hill Wednesday to sell Democrats on the newly announced Iran nuclear deal, as several influential members voiced reservations about giving it their seal of approval in a vital vote this fall.
Biden was meeting first with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, though the tougher lift may be on the Senate side. In the aftermath of the deal announcement in Vienna, senior Democratic senators made clear they were withholding judgment.
“We’re basically legitimizing Iran’s nuclear program,” Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., told Fox News, voicing concerns about what Tehran gets in return, including the likely lifting of an arms embargo and leverage over the timing of certain nuclear inspections.
“At the end of the day, the challenge here is that 10 to 12 years from now, does Iran have a pathway towards a full industrial-sized nuclear program and the possibility of breaking out to a weapon? And if so, all you’ve done is delayed the question of Iran’s nuclear ambitions.”
Menendez is a leading skeptic but plenty more are staying on the sidelines and could face more pressure from constituents during the August recess. (Read more from “Democrats Divided: Biden Dispatched to Hill to Twist Arms on Iran Deal” HERE)