The Final Tally: How Congress Voted on Iran

September 17, 2015

By September 17, the deadline for Congressional action on the nuclear deal between Iran and the world's six major powers, Senate Democrats had blocked a Republican-led effort to reject the agreement. After debating a resolution of disapproval on the deal, the Senate moved to a procedural vote on September 10 to end debate on the subject, which required 60 votes. But with a vote of 58-42 in favor, Democrats filibustered the measure and prevented the resolution of disapproval from coming to a vote.

Earlier in the week, 42 Senators had declared support for the deal – more than the 34 that President Obama would need to sustain a veto, even if the resolution of disapproval were passed. But the filibuster prevented Obama from even needing to use his veto power. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) pushed for another vote on September 15, which Democrats blocked with a vote of 56-42. In a final effort to derail the deal, McConnell then scheduled a third procedural vote on an amendment that would require Iran to release American prisoners and recognize Israel's right to exist before the United States lifted sanctions. On September 17, the motion failed to pass with a vote of 53-45.
 
President Obama gave the following statement on the Senate vote.
 
“Today, the Senate took an historic step forward and voted to enable the United States to work with our international partners to enable the implementation of the comprehensive, long-term deal that will prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. This vote is a victory for diplomacy, for American national security, and for the safety and security of the world. For nearly two years, we negotiated from a position of strength to reach an agreement that meets our core objectives. Since we concluded these negotiations, we have had the most consequential national security debate since the decision to invade Iraq more than a decade ago. Over the last several weeks, the more members studied the details of this deal, the more they came out in support. Today, I am heartened that so many Senators judged this deal on the merits, and am gratified by the strong support of lawmakers and citizens alike. Going forward, we will turn to the critical work of implementing and verifying this deal so that Iran cannot pursue a nuclear weapon, while pursuing a foreign policy that leaves our country - and the world - a safer place.”
 
In the House, some opponents of the deal, led by Peter Roskam (R-IL) and Mike Pompeo (R-KS), proposed shifting strategies and voting on three separate measures.
 
  1. H. Res 411 claiming that Obama did not submit all the elements of the deal to Congress, as required by the Iran Nuclear Review Act
  2. H. Res 3460 to prevent Obama from lifting sanctions on Iran
  3. H. Res 3461 to approve the deal
 
The House passed the first two resolutions on September 10 and 11. The third resolution failed to pass, with a vote of 162-269. But the resolutions were largely symbolic, as President Obama had enough support to ensure the deal would survive. McConnell also said that the Senate would not debate House legislation without “enough co-sponsors to override a presidential veto.” Although 25 House Democrats opposed the deal, House opponents still fell short of a veto-proof majority.
 
The following are statements from key Senators and members of Congress on the votes surrounding the deal.
  
Senate
 
Supporters
Opponents
 
Leadership
 
Minority Leader Harry Reid
 
“The Senate has spoken with a clarion voice and declared that the historic agreement to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon will stand.”
Sept. 10, 2015, according to the press 
             
 
"The Republicans have lost...we should move on to something else."
—Sept. 16, 2015, according to the press
 
Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL)
 
Committees
 
Chris Murphy (D-CT)
 
“There’s a cost to the international credibility of the country and this president if a motion of disapproval passes the House and the Senate. There is some harm to the country’s standing if we have to go through the charade of the veto.”
Aug. 27, 2015, according to the press
 
Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
 
“I voted to support the Iran nuclear deal today because it is my firm belief that the test of a great nation is not how many wars we can engage in, but how we can use our strength and our capabilities to resolve international conflicts in a peaceful way.”
Sept. 10, 2015, in a statement
 
Claire McCaskill (D-MO)
 
"They are not willing to do a vote on the merits because they’re gonna lose a vote on the merits. So they’d rather hide behind this silly argument that somehow this is a filibuster."
Sept. 10, 2015, according to the press
 
Gary Peters (D-MI)
 
"This is one of those votes of conscience where you have to look in the mirror and feel comfortable with what you're doing and have no regrets…This is one you will remember the rest of your life."
Sept. 10, 2015, according to the press
 
 
 
Leadership
 
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
 

“The Senate should not hide behind procedure...The American people were led to believe that negotiations with Iran would be about stopping its nuclear program, but that’s not what the deal before us would do.”
—Sept. 8, 2015, in a floor statement
 
"At the very least we should be able to provide some protection to Israel and long-overdue relief to Americans who've languished in Iranian custody for years," in reference to McConnell's amendments proposed on September 16
—Sept. 16, 2015, according to the press
 
Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX)
 
Committees
 
Bob Corker (R-TN)
Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
 
“[Voting on a resolution of disapproval] opens the door for the next president to look at this in a very different way. Bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate will have disapproved of what was negotiated”
Sept. 9, 2015, according to the press
 
Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
 
"While I came to a different conclusion than many in my own caucus, I recognize for them, this is a vote of conscience…Just, as it is, for me."
Sept. 10, 2015, according to the press
 
Lindsay Graham (R-SC)
 
"Sen. [Harry] Reid has come out of nowhere to change what was the common understanding of how we would proceed…We're more worried about protecting Barack Obama from having to veto this than you are about having a debate on the floor of the Senate."
Sept. 10, 2015, according to the press

Ted Cruz (R-TX)
 
"If this deal goes through, we know to an absolute certainty people will die. Americans will die, Israelis will die, Europeans will die.”
Sept. 9, 2015, at an anti-deal rally with Donald Trump
 

Dan Coats (R-IN)

“Moving forward is a violation of the law...That will be tested in the courts.”
Sept. 15, 2015, according to the press

 
 
House
 
Supporters
Opponents
 
Leadership
 
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
 
"This is historic, this is grand, this is visionary, this is about peace. Some of our members are saying this is the first time since I've been here I've been able to vote for peace rather than against war.”
Sept. 10, 2015, according to the press
 
 
Committees
 
Adam Schiff (D-CA)
Ranking Member of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
 
“For the Democrats on the Committee, the [intelligence community’s] assessments and insights into Iran’s nuclear program have given us the confidence that this agreement will realistically cut off Iran's path to the bomb for at least the next decade and a half…As Members in the House continue to review the deal, we encourage them to review the classified assessments for themselves.”
Sept. 9, 2015, in a statement, after all Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee announced support for the deal
 
Louise Slaughter (D-NY)
 
"We are yet again thrown into chaos by a majority chasing its tail in a last-minute meeting, throwing together three bills that might as well be scribbled on the back of a cocktail napkin...Meanwhile, the Senate has declared that they are not changing course, and in the end, we will be left with nothing."
Sept. 9, 2015, according to the press
 
Dan Kildee (D-MI)
 
Senator McConnell’s amendment contradicts what for years has been a bipartisan effort to secure the release of four American prisoners in Iran. His amendment is sadly counterproductive and does nothing to help bring Amir Hekmati or the other innocent Americans being held home. The fate of Amir and the other imprisoned Americans in Iran should never be partisan issue.”
Sept. 16, 2015, in a statement
 
 
Leadership
 
Speaker John Boehner (R-OH)
 
"This is a bad deal with decades-long consequences for the security of the American people and our allies, and we'll use every tool at our disposal to stop, slow and delay this agreement from being fully implemented."
Sept. 10, 2015, according to the press
 
 
Committees
 
Mike Pompeo (R-KS)
 
"I think the president has broken the law — that is, he hasn't complied with his obligations under the legislation allowing Congress to review the deal.”
 
"If Obama lifts sanctions against Iran without Congress’ approval, "the American people will be furious and properly so because they will have a president who is brazenly violating the law with knowledge and intent."
Sept. 9, 2015, according to the press
 
Peter Roskam (R-IL)
 
"It is a scandal that the administration has not disclosed this information," referring to Iran’s agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Sept. 9, 2015, according to the press
 
Steve Israel (D-NY)
 
“As a strong and visible opponent of the Iran deal, I’m outraged by the last-minute decision of House Republican leaders to inject irresponsible partisan politics into the upcoming vote. This three-bill gimmick is designed to play political games instead of allowing a thoughtful debate on the merits of the Iran deal.”
Sept. 10, 2015, in a statement