Posts Tagged Congress

Obama Determined to Add Gitmo Closure to his Legacy

Obama Gitmo closurePresident Barack Obama launched a final push on Tuesday to persuade Congress to close the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, but lawmakers, opposed to rehousing detainees in the United States, declared his plan a non-starter.

In White House remarks, Obama, a Democrat, pleaded with the Republican-led Congress to give his proposal a “fair hearing.” He said he did not want to pass along the issue to his successor next January.

The Pentagon plan proposes 13 potential sites on U.S. soil for the transfer of remaining detainees but does not identify the facilities or endorse a specific one.

“We’ll review President Obama’s plan,” Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said. “But since it includes bringing dangerous terrorists to facilities in U.S. communities, he should know that the bipartisan will of Congress has already been expressed against that proposal.”

Paul Ryan, the Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, said Obama had yet to convince Americans that moving the prisoners to the United States was smart or safe.

Obama pledged to close the prison as a candidate for the White House in 2008. The prisoners were rounded up overseas when the United States became embroiled in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington. The facility in years past came to symbolize aggressive detention practices that opened the United States to allegations of torture.

“Let us go ahead and close this chapter,” Obama said.

“Keeping this facility open is contrary to our values … It is viewed as a stain on our broader record of upholding the highest standards of rule of law,” he said.

Obama is considering taking unilateral executive action to close the facility, situated in a U.S. naval station in southeast Cuba, if Congress does not vote to allow transfers to the United States. Republicans oppose any executive order.

The White House has sought to buttress its argument for closing the prison by focusing on its high cost. Obama said nearly $450 million was spent last year alone to keep it running. The new plan would be cheaper, officials said.

The transfer and closure costs would be $290 million to $475 million, an administration official told reporters, while housing remaining detainees in the United States would be $65 million to $85 million less expensive than at the Cuba facility, meaning the transfer bill would be offset in 3 to 5 years.

The prison, which Obama said once held nearly 800 detainees, now houses 91 detainees. Some 35 prisoners will be transferred to other countries this year, leaving the final number below 60, officials said.

Obama noted that his predecessor, Republican President George W. Bush, transferred hundreds of prisoners out of Guantanamo and wanted to close it. Republican Senator John McCain, Obama’s 2008 presidential opponent and a former prisoner of war during U.S. involvement in Vietnam, also wanted it shut.

The plan would send detainees who have been cleared for transfer to their homelands or third countries and transfer remaining prisoners to U.S. soil to be held in maximum-security prisons. Congress has banned such transfers to the United States since 2011.

Though the Pentagon has previously noted some of the sites it surveyed for use as potential U.S. facilities, the administration wants to avoid fueling any political outcry in important swing states before the Nov. 8 presidential election.



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Rubio Fumbles, Governors Shine, Trump Untouched

ABC NewsThere have been no higher stakes on a Republican debate stage in the 2016 campaign for president than there were Saturday night.

Seven GOP Republican hopefuls faced off just three days before a make-or-break New Hampshire primary that some of them are not likely to survive.

Coming off a strong Iowa finish, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio tripped up early under attack from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who are jockeying for the same Republican voters.

At the same time, the candidates on the still-crowded stage seemed unwilling to mix it up with Donald Trump, the national front-runner for months who needs a win in New Hampshire on Tuesday to avoid starting the 2016 race with two consecutive losses.

And then there was Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, the champion college debater who shared a deeply personal moment during an otherwise forgettable night while trying to build on his victory in the Iowa caucuses.

Rubio experienced his worst moment in a presidential debate at the worst time, stumbling badly when forced to answer the fundamental question posed by rivals of his candidacy: whether he has the experience necessary to lead the nation.

As a first-term senator with no executive experience, Rubio’s resume is remarkably similar to Barack Obama before he became president. Rubio tried to turn the question around by charging that Obama “knows exactly what he’s doing” by “undertaking a systematic effort to change this country.”

The answer was quickly challenged by Christie: “I like Marco Rubio, and he’s a smart person and a good guy, but he simply does not have the experience to be president of the United States.”

A clearly rattled Rubio responded by delivering the same line about Obama not once, but twice. And Christie made sure New Hampshire voters knew it: “There it is. The memorized 25-second speech. There it is, everybody.”

It was a cringe-worthy moment for Rubio three days before a New Hampshire contest in which he hopes to knock Christie, Bush and Ohio Gov. John Kasich from the race. Even if it doesn’t significantly change the contest in New Hampshire, the moment raises questions about Rubio’s readiness to take on Democrat Hillary Clinton in a general election debate.

He is barely registering in recent preference polls, but the New Jersey governor was the toughest candidate on the debate stage Saturday night. And that’s no small feat with the tough-talking Trump at center stage.

At seemingly every turn, Christie zeroed in on Rubio, pelting him with zingers about his inexperience and record in Washington. Calling out Rubio on his missed votes in the Senate, Christie charged, “That’s not leadership. That’s truancy.”

And when Rubio didn’t answer a moderator’s question about why he backpedaled on an immigration proposal he’d helped write when it appeared to become politically unpopular, Christie called him out.

“The question was, did he fight for his legislation. It’s abundantly clear that it he didn’t.” Then he twisted the knife: “That’s not what leadership is. That’s what Congress is.”

It was a performance Christie badly needed as he teeters on the edge of irrelevancy in the crowded Republican contest. Is it too little too late to rescue his campaign?

Trump’s rivals barely laid a glove on the frequent New Hampshire poll leader.

The decision to withhold fire was evident right from the start, when Cruz declined to repeat his assertion this week that Trump didn’t have the temperament to be commander in chief. Cruz dodged, saying everyone on the stage would be better leader of the U.S. military than Obama and Democratic contenders Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

Pressed by a moderator whether he stood by his words that Trump was too volatile to be president, Cruz said simply, “I think that is an assessment the voters are going to make.” Trump noted that Cruz refused to answer the question.

Bush was the only one who took it directly to Trump. After the billionaire real-estate developer defended the use of eminent domain as a necessary tool of government, Bush said the businessman was “downright wrong” when his company tried to use eminent domain to build an Atlantic City casino.

Trump scoffed, saying Bush “wants to be a tough guy.”

Bush fired back, “How tough is it to take property from an elderly woman?”

It was the only moment in which Trump flashed any of the rhetorical jabs he’s become known for on Twitter. For the most part, Trump was content to lay back and let those chasing him in the preference polls fight amongst themselves.

The champion college debater wasn’t much of a factor after a rough start to the debate, when he was asked about Trump’s temperament and allegations his campaign team engaged in “deceitful behavior” by suggesting in the moments before the Iowa caucuses started that retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson was leaving the race.

“When this transpired, I apologized to him then and I do so now,” Cruz said. “Ben, I’m sorry.”

Cruz returned to prominence when asked about substance abuse, and gave an answer that will be hard for some voters to forget.

The Texas senator shared the deeply personal story of his sister’s overdose death. He told New Hampshire voters, and a national television audience, that he and his father pulled his older sister out of a crack house. They pleaded with her to straighten out for the good of her son. But she didn’t listen.

“She died,” Cruz said.

It was a very human moment for a candidate sometimes criticized for not being likable.

And it was in line with his tone all night long, as he consistently rose above the mud-slinging, despite his near-daily attacks on his rivals on the campaign trail.

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Bill Clinton Stumps for Hillary in New Hampshire

Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton stepped into the limelight Monday, making his first solo campaign appearance in wife Hillary’s 2016 bid for the White House, calling her the most qualified US presidential candidate in decades.

The 69-year-old former president went to in support of the former secretary of state, senator and first lady who leads national polls for the Democrats ahead of the state’s voting contest next month.

Popular among party faithful, Clinton is nonetheless still tainted by allegations of infidelity and sexual impropriety that his wife’s Republican rival, Donald Trump, has sought to exploit by calling him “fair game.”

On Monday, he addressed a rally at a community college in the city of Nashua, paying tribute to Hillary’s determination to make America a fairer, safer country for the poor and struggling middle classes.

“I do not believe in my lifetime anybody has run for this job in a moment of great importance who is better qualified by knowledge, experience and temperament to do what needs to be done,” he said.

New Hampshire hosts the nation’s first presidential primary on February 9.

Calling himself a “happy grandfather,” a relaxed Clinton said he thought Hillary was “the most amazing person” when they met and fell in love, 45 years ago at Yale Law School.

She could have won any job but wanted only to provide legal aid to the poor, said her husband, dressed in an open-necked shirt, dark pullover and blazer, wearing a Hillary pin on his lapel.

– ‘One of the great women abusers’ –

“Everything she touched, she made better,” he said, calling her a “change maker.”

“In an uncertain world, where borders look more like nets than walls, and no one is in total control, she understands what it takes to keep our country as safe as possible,” he added.

But Trump, the real estate tycoon who has led Republican polls for months, has blasted Bill Clinton’s “terrible record” with women an apparent allusion to his past alleged marital infidelities.

He stepped up his personal attacks on the Clintons on Monday, criticizing Hillary for calling him sexist.

“How can she do that when she’s got one of the great women abusers of all time sitting in her house, waiting for her to come home for dinner,” he said.

“The worst thing Hillary could do is have her husband campaign for her. Just watch,” he tweeted to his 5.5 million followers on Sunday.

Republicans in Congress tried but failed in 1998 to remove Bill Clinton from the White House for alleged perjury and obstruction during an investigation into an alleged affair.

On Sunday, Hillary Clinton was heckled by a Republican state representative in New Hampshire about her husband’s alleged sex scandals. “You are very rude,” she snapped back before addressing another audience member.

Her husband did not mention Trump during his 30-minute speech in Nashua, but warned that key gains in environmental and health care policy would be reversed if the country elects a Republican president.

“It’s kind of scary,” he said in reference to the campaign, urging supporters to take the candidates seriously. He later addressed another campaign event in Exeter, New Hampshire.

According to Real Clear Politics, Clinton trails her party rival, Bernie Sanders, by 44.7 to 49 percent of the Democrat vote in the state.

On Monday, she was in Iowa, hundreds of miles apart from her husband. “I think I can be the president America and Iowa needs, with your help,” she told supporters.

Trump on Monday unveiled his first TV ad of the campaign, fanning fresh controversy by incorporating footage of migrants fleeing Morocco into a Spanish enclave with a voice over talking about the Mexico-US border.

The 30-second ad will be broadcast from Tuesday, costing $2 million a week ahead of the first-in-the-nation voting contests in Iowa and New Hampshire.

It spotlights his call for a ban on Muslims entering the United States, pledge to crush the so-called Islamic State extremist group and promise to end illegal immigration from Mexico.

But a fact-checking website gave the ad a “Pants on Fire” rating, saying it uses footage, not from the Mexico-US border, but from Melilla, a small Spanish enclave across the Atlantic Ocean on Morocco’s coast.


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Brazilian Impeachment Crisis Causing Turmoil Across Nation

DILMA RECEBE PRIMEIRO-MINISTRO FRANCÊS NO PLANALTOBrazil’s impeachment plot thickened Wednesday with speculation rife over whether President Dilma Rousseff will be abandoned by a key ally and the Supreme Court stepping in to put the whole process on hold.

For Rousseff, the court’s decision late Tuesday to freeze the impeachment machine for a week offered badly needed respite as she fights to avoid being ejected one year into her second term at the head of Latin America’s biggest country.

However, she risked getting bad news later Wednesday when she meets with Vice President Michel Temer, who has hinted strongly he will join the push to impeach.

Temer is from the centrist PMDB party, the main coalition partner for Rousseff’s leftist Workers’ Party, and if he walks out on her, she will find it harder to get the one third majority needed in Congress to defeat impeachment.

Although Temer has kept a cryptic silence on his ultimate intentions, he has dropped strong hints that he no longer considers himself bound to his constitutional boss, including sending a letter on Monday to complain about her lack of trust in him.

Brazil’s first female president, a moderate leftist, is accused of illegal budgeting maneuvers, but says the practices were long accepted by previous governments. She calls the attempt to bring her down a “coup.”

The turmoil is stirring passions across the South American country of 204 million people, where Rousseff’s Workers’ Party has been in power since 2003 with the help of the PMDB.

Nationwide opposition rallies are planned Sunday and on Tuesday Rousseff supporters marched in central Rio de Janeiro, which will host the 2016 Olympics.

Political uncertainty is also adding to the economic mess, with GDP down 4.5 percent in the third quarter year-on-year, and the national currency down a third against the dollar this year. A vast corruption scandal centered on state oil giant Petrobras has also put a hole in investor confidence.

In the latest sign of the dismal economy, the government announced year-on-year inflation for November of 10.48 percent, the highest in 12 years.

The stock market in Sao Paulo, however, shot up 3.75 percent on speculation that Rousseff will be deposed, opening the door to ending of months of political gridlock and launching economic reforms.

Late Tuesday, the Supreme Court made a dramatic intervention, ordering a freeze until next Wednesday on the congressional commission that is taking a first look at Rousseff’s impeachment case.

The suspension was ordered in response to an appeal from Rousseff allies that the opposition had illegally insisted on secret votes, not the usual open ballots, while picking who would sit on the congressional commission.

The goal, according to the opposition, was to stack the body with anti-Rousseff deputies.

The commission is tasked with making a non-binding recommendation which would then set the tone for formal impeachment votes in the lower house and Senate on the president’s fate.

The court will rule next Wednesday on what to do, but is not expected to scupper the whole impeachment process.

In comments Wednesday, Temer said the commission vote had been “legitimate,” another sign that he is shifting into outright opposition against Rousseff. If she is deposed, Temer would become interim president.

In parallel with Rousseff’s struggles, her main foe, the speaker of the lower house Eduardo Cunha, is also trying to save his career.

Cunha, from the PMDB’s openly anti-Rousseff wing, is the architect of the impeachment drive and also oversaw the controversial session Tuesday to form the commission.

But in an illustration of the almost surreal level of corruption eating away at Brazil’s elite, Cunha himself faces criminal corruption charges that he took millions of dollars in Petrobras-related bribes and hid money in Swiss bank accounts.

On Wednesday, an ethics committee yet again postponed a decision on whether to open an enquiry into Cunha’s activities, which could then lead to him being forced out. It was the sixth such delay.

The conservative politician says the charges are politically motivated and has fought fiercely to retain his post.

Analysts say that the entire impeachment crisis has in part been linked to Cunha’s battle to distract attention from his case and ensure his continued influence as speaker.

A report in the specialist website Congresso em Foco said Wednesday that one third of members elected to the impeachment commission are themselves already facing criminal probes or trials.


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Shaker Aamer released from Guantánamo Bay

Shaker AamerThe last British prisoner in Guantanamo Bay has been released, it was confirmed today.

Father-of-four Shaker Aamer had been detained at the US military jail in Cuba since 2002 without trial.

He was cleared for release at the end of last month, but Mr Aamer’s wife Zin and four children, one of whom he has never met, have been waiting for his return.

His release was confirmed by Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond this morning.

Andy Worthington, co-director of the We Stand With Shaker campaign, said he had informed by Mr Aamer’s lawyer that he is due to return to the UK today.

He said: ‘We’re delighted to hear that his long and unacceptable ordeal has come to an end.

‘We hope he won’t be detained by the British authorities on his return and gets the psychological and medical care that he needs to be able to resume his life with his family in London.’

Other reports suggested he was already on a flight back home.

Human rights charity Reprieve wrote on Twitter: ‘Looks like a plane has left Guantanamo Bay, bound for London.’

But a spokesman for Reprieve said it had no confirmation of Mr Aamer’s release and it would not receive advance warning.

Mr Aamer, 46, says he was working as a charity worker in Afghanistan when he was kidnapped and handed over to US forces in 2001.

During his time in captivity, his lawyers said he was subjected to torture, with beatings and sleep deprivation, and held in solitary confinement for 360 days.

In 2005, he lost half his body weight during a hunger strike.

His family, MPs and actors Mark Rylance and Maxine Peake have also taken part in a 24-hour fast to show their support. Mr Aamer said he cried when he read about the protests.

He was described in US military files obtained by the WikiLeaks website as a ‘close associate of Osama bin Laden’ who fought in the battle of Tora Bora.

However in 2007 the allegations against him were dropped and he was cleared for release.

Despite a formal request by then foreign secretary David Miliband, American authorities refused to allow him to go.

In letters, Mr Aamer said he was not sure if he would know how to respond to his name after being referred to as 239 – his prison number – for more than a decade.

Amnesty International UK director Kate Allen said: ‘After so many twists and turns in this appalling case, we won’t really believe that Shaker Aamer is actually being returned to the UK until his plane touches down on British soil.

‘We should remember what a terrible travesty of justice this case has been, and that having been held in intolerable circumstances for nearly 14 years Mr Aamer will need to time to readjust to his freedom.’

In a letter to Mr Aamer’s US lawyer earlier this month, Clive Stafford Smith, Mr Hammond said he ‘greatly welcomed’ the decision to release his client.

It was claimed Mr Aamer’s release was delayed to appease US politicians visiting the camp.

Three Republican Senators visited the camp on a ‘fact-finding’ mission.

Asked about the timescale, Mr Hammond said: ‘As you know, the US authorities have now informed us that they have decided to return Shaker Aamer to the UK.

‘We greatly welcome this decision. The US government has notified Congress and once that notice period has concluded, Mr Aamer will return to the UK.

‘In the meantime we will continue to work closely with the US administration on arrangements for Mr Aamer’s return.’

Speaking about the delays earlier this week, Mr Stafford Smith, who is also Director of pressure group Reprieve, said: ‘Sadly, as we have said all along, it looks like those who don’t want Shaker released are dragging their feet.

‘We want to thank all those who have been committed to helping Shaker, but we must all continue to press the authorities on both sides of the Atlantic to do as they promised.

‘Surely 14 years of abuse is enough every additional day is an additional insult to justice. He has to come home now, and his family must be put out of their eternal misery.’

Downing Street has refused to comment on the timing of Mr Aamer’s release.

But the PM’s spokesman said earlier this week: ‘We have been working with the US to make sure the case is dealt with as quickly as possible.’


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Trump Holds Steady As Fiorina Shines in GOP Presidential Debate

CNN  debateRepublican front-runner Donald Trump came under heavy attack from his rivals in a contentious U.S. presidential debate on Wednesday, and former Hewlett-Packard Chief Executive Carly Fiorina emerged from the back of the pack to lead the charge.

Fiorina, a late addition to the second prime-time debate of the 2016 Republican White House race, made her presence felt as one of Trump’s strongest challengers in a crowded field anxious to pile on the real-estate mogul and former reality-TV star.

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush also frequently confronted Trump and grew stronger as the debate wore on, sharply defending his brother, former President George W. Bush, when Trump criticized the war in Iraq.

With Trump shooting to a big lead in opinion polls, the other 10 candidates struggled at times to get attention on the crowded stage barely four months before the first nominating contest for the November 2016 election.

Unlike last month’s first debate, when most of the contenders shied away from directly challenging Trump, several of them engaged him in sometimes fierce personal exchanges.

Enjoying the spotlight, Trump touted his business experience and fired off insults, making a crack about U.S. Senator Rand Paul’s looks and declaring that former New York Governor George Pataki “couldn’t get elected dogcatcher.”

But Trump drew a sharp rebuke from Fiorina for his recent comment in an interview that voters might not back her because of her face.

“I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said,” Fiorina said, drawing applause.

Trump leaned toward her and replied: “I think she’s got a beautiful face, and I think she’s a beautiful woman.”

Twitter later reported that Fiorina’s response to Trump on her looks was the most tweeted moment of the debate. Facebook also registered the exchange as its top social moment, and said Trump and Fiorina were the top candidates discussed on Facebook during the debate.

Fiorina has been rising in the polls and was sharing the stage with the leading candidates for the first time after a strong performance in the first “undercard” debate for low-polling candidates last month.

At one point, she noted Trump’s companies had filed for bankruptcy four times and asked, “Why should we trust you?”

Bush, a frequent target of Trump’s jibes for his “low-energy” campaign, criticized the billionaire for his past friendliness with Democrats and for trying to get involved in casino gambling in Florida.

“He asked Florida to have casino gambling and we said no,” Bush said. Trump shrugged his shoulders dismissively and denied trying to get into the casino industry in Florida. “Wrong… Jeb, come on.” Trump added: “More energy tonight? I like that.”

Bush, an establishment Republican, has been overshadowed by Trump’s bomb-throwing rhetoric but had promised to be more aggressive in the debate.

When Trump noted he was the only person on the stage who had disagreed with the decision to go to war in Iraq, Bush leaped to the defense of his brother, who ordered the invasion.

“He kept us safe,” Bush said. Trump responded: “Do you feel safer now? I don’t feel so safe.”

Trump also took aim at Paul, saying he did not even belong on the stage because of his low standing in the polls. Paul, a senator from Kentucky, criticized Trump for his “sophomoric” criticisms of people’s appearance.

“I never attacked him on his looks, and believe me there’s plenty of material there,” Trump said.

A Reuters breakdown of speaking times in the debate showed Trump led the way with more than 19 minutes, Bush was second with nearly 16 minutes and Fiorina was third with 13 minutes and 43 seconds. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was the least talkative candidate, speaking for only 8 minutes and 30 seconds.

At one point, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, renowned for his sometimes brusque and bullying style, derided the “childish back-and-forth” and called on the candidates to be more substantive.

Reuters/Ipsos opinion polling before the debate showed Trump leading the 2016 race among Republicans with 32 percent. Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson was second at 15 percent. Bush was in third place at 9 percent as his campaign struggled to take off.

Also debating in the main event at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley were Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Mike Huckabee and John Kasich.

The Republicans disagreed on whether the government should be shut down in order to cut funds for the women’s health group Planned Parenthood and condemned President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran.

Cruz, a U.S. senator from Texas, said the nuclear deal with Iran should be ripped up, but Paul said it should be enforced because Congress had not been able to stop it.

On Planned Parenthood, Kasich said it would not be worthwhile to risk a government shutdown as some Republicans in Congress have proposed in order to strip federal funding for the women’s health group.

“I would not be for shutting the government down, because I don’t think it’s going to work out,” Kasich said.

Cruz, who led the effort to shut down the government over funding for Obamacare, said, “We need to stop surrendering and start standing for our principles.”

Before the prime-time encounter, Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, Lindsey Graham and Pataki participated in the “undercard” debate for those candidates who did not poll strongly enough to qualify for the main event.

Jindal, the Louisiana governor, and Pataki, the former New York governor, led the early charge against Trump.

“Let’s stop treating Donald Trump like a Republican,” said Jindal. “He’s not a conservative. He’s not a liberal. He’s not a Democrat. He’s not a Republican. He’s not an independent. He believes in Donald Trump.”

Trump and Bush shared a moment of comity near the end of the debate when each of the candidates was asked what code name he or she would suggest the Secret Service use for them if they were elected president.

“Eveready,” Bush said, using the name of an American battery maker. Looking at Trump standing next to him, Bush added: “It’s high-energy, Donald.” As the audience laughed and applauded, Bush and Trump, both smiling, slapped hands together.

Asked what his code name should be, Trump said “Humble” to further laughter from the audience.


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Obama Secures Veto Proof Number in Senate To Secure Iran Deal

Iran dealThe Iran nuclear deal strongly backed by President Barack Obama and just as ardently opposed by the GOP is now on track to get through Congress.

In the Senate, Democratic supporters now claim a decisive 34 votes in favor, after Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland called the pact “the best option available to block Iran from having a nuclear bomb.”

That will allow backers to uphold Obama’s veto, if necessary, of a resolution of disapproval Republicans are trying to pass this month. GOP lawmakers who control the House and Senate say Iran got too many concessions in the agreement, which aims to curb the country’s nuclear program in exchange for hundreds of billions of dollars in relief from international sanctions.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., grudgingly acknowledged that his side would not be able to block the deal, which he said leaves Iran “with a threshold nuclear capability.”

Israel also has railed against the deal, arguing that its conditions would keep Iran perilously close to developing nuclear weapons while enriching a government that has funded anti-U.S. and anti-Israel militants throughout the Middle East.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest called the growing support a validation of Obama’s effort to “make sure that every member of the Senate understands exactly what’s included in the agreement.” The deal sets Iran back so that it is at least a year away from being able to produce enough nuclear material for a weapon, before the restrictions ease after a decade.

For all the geopolitical ramifications, the debate in the U.S. has often seemed more about domestic partisan politics over a resolution that, on its own, wouldn’t be able to reverse a multi-country agreement already blessed by the United Nations. A vote of disapproval, however, could signal Congress’ readiness to introduce new sanctions at the risk of causing Tehran and other governments — to abandon the accord and blame the U.S. for the failure.

Republicans, defending their congressional majorities and aiming for the White House in next year’s elections, have denounced the deal in apocalyptic terms. The bulk of Democrats have rushed to the president’s defense.

Next week, Donald Trump and fellow presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz will rally outside the Capitol against the agreement, as lawmakers return from a five-week recess to begin debating it.

In the House, the disapproval resolution is certain to pass by a wide margin when it comes to a vote next week. But in a letter to fellow Democrats on Wednesday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said she has the votes to back up an Obama veto.

Supporters of the deal are seeking a bigger victory in the Senate. If they can assemble 41 votes in favor, they’d be able to block the disapproval resolution from passing at all, sparing Obama the embarrassment of having to veto it. They need seven of the remaining 10 undeclared Democrats to back the agreement, though several in this group could still come out in opposition.

Either way, Obama has succeeded in selling a package that prompted immediate and intense opposition from Republicans in the days after it was concluded on July 14 by Iran, the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China.

Millions were spent lobbying against the pact and polls registered significant public distrust. But none of the skepticism translated into enough Democratic opposition to threaten the deal, and only two Senate Democrats, Chuck Schumer of New York and Robert Menendez of New Jersey, have announced their opposition so far.

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