WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats delivered a major victory to President Obama on Thursday when they blocked a Republican resolution to reject a six-nation nuclear accord with Iran, ensuring that the landmark deal will take effect without a veto showdown between Congress and the White House.
A procedural vote fell short of the number needed to break a Democratic filibuster. It culminated hours of debate on the Senate floor and capped months of discord since the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China announced the agreement with Iran in July.
Debate over the accord divided Democrats between their loyalties to the president and their constituents, especially Jewish ones, animated the antiwar movement on the left and exposed the waning power of the Israeli lobbying force that spent millions to prevent the accord.
“Regardless of how one feels about the agreement,” said Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, one of four Democrats to vote against the president, “fair-minded Americans should acknowledge the president’s strong achievements in combating and containing Iran.”
Graphic | Lawmakers Against the Iran Nuclear Deal Twenty-three Democratic lawmakers have said they will not support President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, joining their Republican colleagues in the House and the Senate.
Acknowledging the tortured decision he and other skeptical Democrats traveled, Mr. Schumer said, “I also have a great deal of respect for the careful thought and deliberation my colleagues went through,” adding, “I recognize for them, that this is a vote of conscience just as it is for me.”
Yet President Obama’s triumph in securing the international agreement — without the support of a single member of the party now in control of Congress — is refashioning the definition of victory for a waning presidency in an era of divided government.
While bipartisan victories tend to be those most celebrated outside Washington, in the current political climate, success by the president is now often measured more by the scope of the policy achieved than by any claim of sweeping consensus. And losing has its own evolving meaning. Republicans will use Mr. Obama’s triumphs — as they did with the health care law — as a means to attack Democrats in anticipation of next year’s election.
Mr. Obama may go down in history as a president whose single biggest foreign policy and …Read More