Sen. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinOvernight Defense & National Security — US tries to deter Russian invasion of Ukraine Senate eyes plan B amid defense bill standoff Senators propose sanctions against Iran over alleged plot to kidnap US journalist MORE (D-Md.) suggested Tuesday that the Iran nuclear deal will survive the Senate, handing President Obama a needed foreign policy victory.
Currently 31 senators have backed the Iran deal. The president will need 34 senators to support it and uphold his veto of a resolution of disapproval. Cardin, the ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, is one of roughly a dozen undecided Democrats crucial to getting the deal across the finish line.
Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), also a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, will announce his decision on Tuesday, while Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D-Pa.) is expected to announce his decision this week.
The Maryland Democrat separately told WBAL, a local radio station, that he would likely announce his decision by Sept. 8, when Congress returns to Washington from the August recess.
"It's going to be soon. Look, Congress gets back to work next Tuesday, and I certainly want to be in a position to make an announcement by no later than that time," he said.
Cardin added that he was "not satisfied" with the details surrounding the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) agreement with Iran on investigating previous nuclear activities at Iran's Parchin facility.
Under that deal, Iran will be able to use its own experts to inspect the facility.
But Cardin suggested that was a separate issue from the inspections regime under the agreement between Iran, the United States and five other countries, which he said allows for the "ability to inspect anywhere in Iran."
Cardin added the Iran nuclear deal includes "pros and cons" and is a "close call."
"[Iran is] given under this agreement the green light to enrich at a pretty high level legally. ... It does get them dangerously close to breakout, so that I think is the major concern," he said. "On the other side of the equation, there's some good things in here for the first 10 to 15 years, and the questions that's always been asked is what happens if we don't go forward with this agreement."
Cardin is the most influential Democrat who is still on the fence, and outside observers have suggested that his decision could sway other undecided lawmakers. Cardin, however, dismissed that notion.
"I've talked to so many of my colleagues; each one of us are weighing the options. This is a vote of conscience," he added. "It's not where someone's going to vote yes or no based on someone else's vote."