Greg Nash

The heir apparent to the role of Senate Democratic leader is going to split with President Obama and come out against the nuclear deal with Iran, according to a report on Thursday evening.

Citing people familiar with Sen. Charles Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) thinking, the Huffington Post reported that the No. 3 Senate Democrat will come out against the deal on Friday.

The news is a serious blow to the Obama administration, which had been gaining significant momentum in support of the Iran deal among Senate Democrats in recent days. 

{mosads}Virtually every watcher of the battle had been intently following Schumer, who is seen to be torn between allegiance to Israel — where most leaders are staunch opponents of the Iran deal — and the leader of his own party. Many had been expecting that he would not announce a decision until shortly before Congress’s September vote on the agreement, after other lawmakers had already made their positions known.

The news of Schumer’s thinking comes mere hours after his fellow New York senator, Kirsten Gillibrand (D), came out in support of the Iran deal.

Gillibrand’s announcement was seen as a possible signal about Schumer’s upcoming decision, and his announcement of opposition to the deal on Friday could be read as a reaction to Gillibrand.

The Huffington Post story was published as the curtain went up on the main Republican presidential debate, which saw the top 10 GOP candidates go head to head in Cleveland, Ohio. The timing could help detract some attention from Schumer’s choice.

The White House has been intently lobbying Senate Democrats to get behind the Iran deal, expecting virtually every Republican lawmaker to oppose it. If GOP lawmakers vote as a bloc, Obama will need Democrats to have his back to sustain his veto of legislation to kill the deal.

Schumer’s decision is expected to bring a handful of Democratic lawmakers with him, which could be harmful for the administration’s hopes.

Tags Chuck Schumer Iran

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