Timing of Schumer announcement shocked White House, Senate colleagues now not sure an Obama veto would be sustaineddoubts that the Senate has the votes to override an inevitable veto of a resolution disapproving President Hussein Obama's nuclear sellout to Iran. McConnell is the Senate Majority Leader and as such should be the guy leading the fight to override that veto. Forgive me for saying this but if the Senate fails to override the veto, McConnell should be removed as Senate Majority Leader.
It seems that the Senate Democrats and the White House are in a panic over Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) announcing his opposition to the sellout. It's not that they didn't expect it - they did. It's the timing that got to them. And the announcement that Schumer will vote to override the Presidential veto. And the hints that Schumer will - despite his calling it a vote of conscience - work to convince his Senate colleagues to vote against Obama.
But the White House and some of Schumer’s Democratic colleagues strongly urged him not to announce his opposition until late August or early September. Republican leaders have set a vote in mid-September on a resolution to disapprove of the deal. Should that resolution pass, Obama has vowed to veto it. In a move that also surprised his colleagues, Schumer said that he would vote to override Obama’s veto as well. As another Senate staff member told me, “It is protocol, if you’re a member of the leadership who is going to oppose your President on a major issue like this, that you not do so in a way that is going to undercut the President and give the President’s opponents fodder to use against him.” Matt House, a spokesman for Schumer, responded in an e-mail, “Senator Schumer was pressed both on the right and the left on the timing of his decision, but said from the very beginning that after careful deliberation, when he made up his mind, he would announce his decision publicly and explain the reasoning. He finished deliberating on that Wednesday afternoon, wrote his statement that evening, and published it soon after.”
After Gillibrand’s announcement, pro-deal forces were ebullient. The tide was strong. Some enjoyed imagining a panic at AIPAC. According to several Senate aides, they believed they were close to having enough votes to block Republicans on the resolution of disapproval itself, so that it would never reach the President and he wouldn’t have to exercise his veto. But hours later Schumer posted his decision online, in the form of a sixteen-hundred-word essay. “What Schumer has done now, unfortunately, is that he has made what was within realistic reach super-difficult,” the first Senate aide said. “By coming out so early, before recess, it’s been really detrimental to the cause of the President and other Senate Democrats who want to be in favor of this deal, because now he’s given a lot of time for senators on the fence to be hit with political attacks like, ‘Why aren’t you where Schumer is? He’s leading; why are you so weak?’ ” The aide continued, “If he wanted to be helpful, as future leader of the caucus, he could have waited. He personally would have had to withstand pressure back home, in exchange for helping out his colleagues. Instead, he said, I’m going to take the pressure off myself and put the pressure on my colleagues.”
On Saturday, that dynamic played out in a full-page ad in the Times—the first, but surely not the last. Featuring side-by-side images of Schumer and Senator Cory Booker, the ad demanded, “Senator Cory Booker: Will you join Senator Schumer and reject the catastrophic Iran deal?” It implored Booker to do so “before Iranian nukes kill millions of Americans.” Among those who funded the ad was the World Values Network, whose executive director, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, is a longtime close friend of Booker but, evidently, not loath to exert intense public pressure. Booker is viewed as undecided.
As of today, twenty Democratic senators have come out in favor of the deal; a total of thirty-four are needed to sustain the President’s veto. “It’s still very much an open question whether we can sustain a veto,” a third Senate aide said. “It will depend on how hard the deal is whipped against within the caucus.” Schumer, by nature an aggressive whip, known for his “full Chuck Schumer” style, is working against Durbin, who chose not to try to contest Reid’s endorsement of Schumer for leader. Schumer’s statements on the subject of his whipping, or not, have been ambiguous. A relentless phone canvasser, he has acknowledged he is making calls to members. “I will certainly share my view and try to persuade them that the vote to disapprove is the right one,” he said, in what might constitute a definition of whipping, but he added that, in the Senate, members make up their own minds—“especially in matters of conscience and great consequence, like this.”And in case you missed it, no great surprise here but on Tuesday Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), the co-sponsor of all the sanctions legislation, came out against the sellout.