Sunday, September 06, 2015

Orthodox Jewish Democrat Senator Cardin Messing with Obama’s Numbers 

Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland has said he will vote “no” on President Obama’s nuclear deal, but this won’t prevent Obama from getting the required number of senators to ensure his eventual veto of a Republican rejection would pass. Senator Cardin, an Orthodox Jew, expressed reservations about the Iran deal in July, but unlike Senator Chuck Schumer of New York and Bob Mendendez of New Jersey, the two other Democratic Senators who oppose the deal, his decision came too late to have a tangible influence on the outcome. His fellow Democrat from Maryland Barbara Mikulski was the 34th Senator to support the deal which ends economic sanctions in return for assurances from Iran about curbing its nuclear development.

Now that Senator Mikulski’s support has given the White House the magic 34th vote needed to sustain a presidential veto, the question is if those who support the deal can get together the necessary 41 votes to block the resolution in the Senate, making a veto unnecessary. Senator Cardin’s decision arrived two days after Senator Mikulski’s, and drew criticism that it was made public only after the vote on the Iran deal was already a foregone conclusion, and did not give Senator Cardin time to lobby others to oppose the agreement. For his part, Senator Cardin, who had been under intense pressure from both sides of the Iran debate, said the delay was not intended for political purposes, but was due to the amount of time required to digest the details of the deal. “I’m not trying to convince anybody,” he added. “Everybody’s trying to make their own judgment.” Arthur Abramson, executive director of the Baltimore Jewish Council, told the Baltimore Sun, “Senator Cardin always votes his conscience on issues of importance. It may take him longer than others to assess a particular agreement or bill, but in the end, he does what he thinks is best.”

Ben Cardin is a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and played a prominent role in encouraging the Nuclear Agreement Review Act, that made Congress pivotal in approving or rejecting a deal. He told the Baltimore Sun, “There’s high risk in both directions, but I think the risk is higher in the long run by going forward with this deal. There is no reason to believe Iran won’t continue its past activities.” Senator Cardin, who is up for re-election only in 2018, was criticized by left-leaning groups, including MoveOn.org, whose executive director, Ilya Sheyman, said, “Senator Cardin’s deeply disturbing decision to oppose the historic diplomatic agreement with Iran amounts to another support for war.” Critics of those who reject the Iran deal have alleged that voting against the deal is a vote for war, although Senator Chuck Schumer, who rejects the deal, denies that war is the only option, but has suggested a return to the negotiation table for another round.

Although Cardin opposes the deal, he praised President Obama for his diplomatic skills that left “Iran no choice but to compromise after years of economic pain resulting from tough US sanctions initiated by Congress.” Bob Corker, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, of which Cardin is a member, wrote a letter strongly criticizing President Obama for agreeing to let the UN Security Council vote on the agreement prior to Congress’ approval. Senator Corker said this was contrary to the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act.

Cardin has criticized Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu for his controversial speech given earlier in the year before Congress, a speech he gave without approval from the White House. Senator Cardin said Netanyahu’s decision to speak was “inappropriate” and added, “I don’t think he has been credible for many of us.” Short of expressing support for the Prime Minister, in an interview with NPR, the Senator indicated that he agreed with Netanyahu that the deal had problems: “Well, we knew the Prime Minister was opposed to the framework, so we’re not surprised by his view against the agreement. But I must tell you, Israel’s security issues are of major concern. We don’t want to see an arms race in the Middle East, so it is a factor.”


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