Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellStudy: Trump tops recent GOP presidents in signing bills in first 100 days Senate passes stopgap funding bill to avert shutdown Let’s never talk about a government shutdown — ever again MORE is acknowledging that he has few options to block the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran.
President Obama has “a great likelihood of success” in an upcoming congressional faceoff on the deal, the Kentucky Republican said on Monday, according to reports.
The comments appear to signal Republican leaders’ reluctant recognition that the math required to override a potential veto of legislation to kill the deal remains slightly out of their grasp.
Though not a single Republican has yet been willing to support the agreement, an overwhelming majority of Democrats have lined up to support the deal.
The calculus for critics of the agreement became slightly more favorable on Tuesday, when Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) announced that he would become the second Senate Democrat to vote to kill the deal, joining Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), the heir apparent to the Senate Democratic leader’s chair.
“What I'm pretty confident of is sustaining the veto will be an entirely Democratic exercise," McConnell said on Monday, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader. "Sen. [Charles] Schumer coming out against the deal was helpful.”
“I hope we can defeat it, but the procedure is obviously stacked in the president's favor,” he added. “And we'll see."
Opponents were given an additional boost over the weekend, when Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) came out against the nuclear accord. Flake’s decision dramatically increased the odds that Republicans remain united to kill the deal.
Republicans will need the support of six Democrats to overcome a filibuster of legislation to kill the deal, and an additional seven to overcome Obama’s veto, assuming GOP lawmakers vote in a united bloc.
But despite a few notable dissenters, Democrats are increasingly saying they support the agreement, which places limits on Iran's nuclear power in exchange for the lifting of sanctions.
Though not impossible, critics’ opportunities for a pickup are diminishing.