Independent Sen. Angus King backs Iran deal

Greg Nash

Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) is backing the Iran nuclear agreement, becoming the latest lawmaker to throw support behind the deal ahead of a five-week congressional recess.

“I have never faced a more difficult decision than a vote on the Iran nuclear decision,” King said Wednesday. “The current alternatives, if this agreement is rejected, are either unrealistic or downright dangerous. And so, based upon what we know now, I intend to vote in favor of the agreement.”

{mosads}King made the remark after Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) paved the way for the Senate to start its work on a resolution of disapproval of the Iran nuclear deal as soon as lawmakers return in September.

Congress has until Sept. 17 to pass a resolution on the deal, which would put limits on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for lifting sanctions.

To reach his decision, King said, he tried to learn “everything I possibly could about the agreement,” including sitting through a roughly four-hour Foreign Relations Committee hearing with Secretary of State John Kerry, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, even though he isn’t a member of the panel.

King’s decision to back the agreement comes after Democratic Sens. Tim Kaine (Va.), Bill Nelson (Fla.), Barbara Boxer (Calif.), Chris Murphy (Conn.) and Patrick Leahy (Vt.) endorsed the deal this week.

President Obama has launched an all-out push to win over the 34 senators needed to uphold his decision if he vetoes the resolution of disapproval.

Senate Republicans have largely lined up against the Iran pact, and despite the flurry of backers this week, many Senate Democrats, including Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), are undecided.

Opponents of the deal hope to use the August recess to pressure roughly a dozen Senate Democrats to buck the president, though that could be an uphill battle.

Republicans have taken aim at multiple parts of the Iran nuclear deal, arguing that rejecting the deal could force Iran back to the negotiating table and result in a better one.

But King dismissed that argument Wednesday, saying that “I haven’t heard anybody credibly argue how or why that would happen.”

The Maine senator acknowledged that “no negotiated agreement is perfect, and it’s easy to pick apart whatever agreement is before you.”

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