The Iran nuclear agreement gained more momentum Sunday as former secretary of state Colin Powell and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the head of the Democratic National Committee, announcement their support.
Powell, secretary of state under President George W. Bush, called the agreement “a pretty good deal” that would reduce the threat of Iran gaining a nuclear weapon.
Iran’s nuclear program “has been thrown into a detour” making it less likely it can produce a nuclear weapon to be used against Israel or other countries, Powell said. “So that’s pretty good,” he told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) said the decision to endorse the agreement was the most difficult one she has made in nearly 23 years in elected office.
The Jewish lawmaker wrote in the Miami Herald that while she has concerns about the agreement, the deal “provides the best chance to ensure” security for the United States, Israel and other allies.
“Under the agreement, Iran will not be able to produce a nuclear bomb for at least 10 to 15 years,” she said, while the United States and its allies “will be able to more closely concentrate on stopping Iran’s terrorist activity.”
When she talked with Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” on CNN, she choked up emotionally as she talked about the difficulty of the decision as a “Jewish mother” and the first Jewish woman elected to the House from Florida.
“There’s nothing more important to me as a Jew than to ensure that Israel’s existence is there throughout our generations,” she said. She added: “There is no way that we would be able to ensure that better than approving this deal.”
The White House has clinched the necessary number of vote commitments in the Senate to ensure that Congress will not torpedo the deal even if President Obama ends up having to veto a disapproval resolution set for a vote this week.
But with that support in hand and more piling up, the White House and congressional backers of the deal have begun aiming for a more ambitious goal: enough backers to bottle up the disapproval resolution in the Senate with a filibuster, preventing it from even coming to a final vote.
That effort suffered a setback on Friday as Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.), who heads the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he opposed the deal.
Thirty-eight senators back the agreement, three votes shy of the 41 needed to filibuster a disapproval resolution and block it from passing.
Powell, who served as national security adviser under Reagan, invoked Reagan’s oft-quoted maxim that the West should “trust but verify” any agreements with the former Soviet Union.
“With Iranians, don’t trust but always verify,” Powell said.