Klobuchar comes out in favor of Iran deal

REUTERS/Larry Downing
With Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s support, the White House has 18 of the 33 votes in the Senate that it needs to keep the deal alive.

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama and backers of the Iran nuclear deal have picked up an important ally in the Senate: Senator Amy Klobuchar announced her intent to support the deal in a statement released Monday afternoon.

Acknowledging she faced a “difficult decision,” Klobuchar said that the deal is “our best available option to put the brakes on Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon and that is why I will support it…If we were to reject this agreement, Iran would be able to continue all of its destabilizing activities while continuing its pursuit of the most destructive weapon in the world.”

Klobuchar argued that the deal prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, keeps U.S. options open, and that rejecting it would jeopardize international partnerships.

The senator’s announcement was a spot of good news for those supportive of the Iran deal. In the last week, prominent congressional Democrats announced their opposition to the deal: the Senate’s number two Democrat, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, said he couldn’t support it, as did the House’s number two Democrat, Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland. The deal’s opponents — mainly Republicans — took it as proof Obama’s deal was heading toward defeat in Congress.

With Klobuchar’s support, the White House has 18 of the 33 votes in the Senate that it needs to keep the deal alive. If Democrats fail to reach that threshold, Obama will be unable to veto the expected resolution of disapproval of the agreement. Lobbying groups such as the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, have said they will meet with each member of Congress to push a no vote, and have spent millions of dollars on the effort.

Still publicly undecided is Sen. Al Franken, though he has signalled he’ll eventually support the deal. According to D.C. newspaper The Hill, a total of 20 Senate Democrats remain undecided. It’s unclear if Klobuchar — who, as Chair of the Democratic Steering Committee, is a top party leader — will play a role in persuading colleagues to vote for the deal. In her careful statement, the senator specifically mentioned she would push for increased assistance to Israel and other allies, and urge her colleagues to do the same. She did not say she would persuade colleagues to vote for the deal.

Congress has until September 17 to vote on the deal. Lawmakers return from the summer recess on September 8.

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Comments (20)

  1. Submitted by richard owens on 08/11/2015 - 10:51 am.

    Sensible, smart and calm.

    Amy really is a good MN Senator, a woman of peace and a voice of reason.

    I appreciate our contribution to the U.S. Senate.

    * * *
    [off-topic alert: a learning moment for MN]
    I hope she and Al are watching the GOLD KING mine disaster and thinking of where Polymet’s containment facilities will be located. The EPA only wanted to try to stop the perpetual 50-250 gallons a minute of poisoned water that has been weeping from this hole for a long long time.

    The last ore was taken from this part of CO in 1991 when the adjoining mine Sunnyside, closed. The waters there will never be okay.

    Blaming the EPA for this disaster comes naturally to people who don’t know mining processes or the secret to getting out of town when the ore goes bad. (cover your mess up and get as far away as possible.)

  2. Submitted by James Hamilton on 08/11/2015 - 11:51 am.

    Always the safe vote.

    While I agree with Sen. Klobuchar’s decision to support this agreement, I am again unsettled by her equivocation and pandering to the opposition, particularly those more interested in the agreement’s effect on Israel than on U.S. interests. Once again, she appears to have tested the winds and attempted to craft a position that will not unduly offend any portion of the electorate.

    What, precisely, does she believe we must do for or with Israel that we do not already do? We currently provide Israel with vast sums every year. We shelter it from opposing forces in the U.N. and other international forums, at significant cost to our own image, interests, and security. We’ve expended great effort over decades to find a route to peace between it and it’s neighbors, only to find Israel as recalcitrant (if not more so) as any of the other parties.

    I am not an expert in foreign policy or nuclear proliferation, any more than are the vast majority of the 535 Congressmembers and Senators who will vote on the agreement. I, unlike many of them, am prepared to accept the advice of experts who have worked long and hard to reach this agreement and who are intimately familiar with not only its details but with the positions taken by Iran (and others) in these negotiations. Experience, education, and training do count. If we’re not going to rely it here, we may as well simply go to war now, with Netanyahu leading our forces.

    • Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 08/11/2015 - 01:22 pm.


      well said. As I was reading this article I was thinking: Aren’t people like Amy elected to lead?

      • Submitted by Bob Petersen on 08/12/2015 - 08:15 am.

        Amy does’t lead…

        because she never comes out first on a strong stand for anything. Look how long it has taken her to come out on this. And, as usual, she is being a good soldier for her side of the aisle.

    • Submitted by Patrick Tice on 08/11/2015 - 03:32 pm.

      Thoughtful post.

      I too would be happier if equivocation and pandering were set aside on something so obviously crafted with diligence and care by expert negotiators. It would be refreshing to tell the naysayers to rebut every point and come up with a plan that doesn’t end in another stupid war, but that will never happen when there are donors to assuage and people with short memories of the last stupid war and the ones before that. One thing for sure is that Netanyahu is a meddling pest who would much rather bully us into fighting his proxy war than to fight it himself. Ironically, his policies would be unbelievably bad for Israel in spite of his nationalistic fervor. If Israel is to survive in the long run, it would be better to embrace the plan.

  3. Submitted by Steven James Beto on 08/11/2015 - 04:28 pm.

    Full Support

    In supporting the Iran deal, no Representative need feel courageous or brave, only that their decision is right and proper.

  4. Submitted by joe smith on 08/11/2015 - 09:05 pm.

    What is America getting out of this deal? I understand Russia, China, Japan and some European countries will be doing business with Iran with or without us involved in this deal and be making money off it. Iran has called for destruction of Israel and pledged death to Americans, they haven’t threatened Russia or China. The administration has conceded Iran will take part of the billions they get to promote terrorism. Do we really think that China and Russia, after they invest billions, will go along with any “snap back” provisions in the deal to put sanctions back on if Iran doesn’t fulfill it’s promises? Once the sanctions are off Iran will have no fear of America because we will have no say in what they do.
    I just don’t see what we are getting out of this deal except plenty of egg on our face in a few yrs.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/12/2015 - 10:44 am.

      What are we getting?

      1. The diminished likelihood of going to war with Iran to defend Israel.

      2. A continuing, credible voice in the affairs of the region.

      3. No imperative to impose sanctions on allies like Germany or France when they get sick of playing along with ineffective sanctions and start doing business with Iran.

      4. A potential–if by no means certain–opening to the future leadership of Iran.

      5. Showing the world that the US is not going to take harsh rhetoric (“death to Americans”) any more seriously than the Soviet Union took President Reagan’s knee-slapper about bombing.

      Apart from that, nothing.

      • Submitted by joe smith on 08/12/2015 - 12:24 pm.

        Diminished likelihood of being bombed, we have no voice in the region, sanctions that don’t work, potential (my favorite of the things we don’t get) opening with Iran and showing the world when a terrorist says he will kill you we don’t take it seriously. As I said what does America get out of this deal? The last 5 reasons I got didn’t do much to persuade me.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/12/2015 - 01:58 pm.

          Not Much Persuasion

          And that is the problem. Republicans have decided that there is nothing that will persuade them, in no small part because it was a deal negotiated by the Obama administration.

          Let me put the question to you this way: What would the US have gained if no deal had been reached? Before you answer, be advised that the standard “a better deal, in which Iran forswears any use of nuclear energy for any purpose, ever” reply is not even a good punch line anymore.

          • Submitted by joe smith on 08/12/2015 - 05:32 pm.

            We get the same thing whether we get a deal or not…..nothing….. The 5 reasons you gave were pie in the sky wishing. Russia and China will never ask our permission to do anything now days. Putin took over the parts of Ukraine he needed and we sat here shaking in our boots that he might get mad at us. China cyber hacks us daily and we want to do trade agreements plus borrow money from them. They know we can’t muster a coalition to do anything (but the coalitions we have look good on paper). So I guess we should have stood on principle and not agreed to any deal then brace ourselves for Iran to join China, N Korea, Russia and who ever else wants to kick sand in our face. Either way we are screwed, that much I agree with Kerry and Obama on.
            Before you blaze away on me being a war hawk, when Russia invaded Ukraine we should have armed their fighters and immediately reinstated the missile system we took out to appease Russia. They only understand strength and our “leading from behind” (what the hell does that mean anyway) is not too scary to them.

            • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/13/2015 - 09:13 am.

              “Before you blaze away on me being a war hawk . . .”

              You took care of that one yourself. Sure, we should have escalated things in the Ukraine, because . . . why? It would have been cool?

              No agreement means the Iranians would legally be free to develop nuclear weapons. “Standing on principle” would have made the US look more foolish than it has anytime since the last Bush administration.

              • Submitted by joe smith on 08/13/2015 - 04:11 pm.

                You don’t think with this agreement they are free the develop nuclear weapons? Who is going to stop them? Certainly not USA, that has been shown, Russia, China?? You started off this conversation listing 5 points for the deal, now we are at “legally free” to make bombs. I’m sure the Iranians are concerned about upholding laws while waging terrorism around the region and world.

                • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/16/2015 - 11:15 am.

                  In That Case, Let’s Just Start the Bombing Now

                  Get it over with, because that’s where this is headed without an agreement.

                  Under the agreement, Iran is NOT legally free to make a nuclear bomb. That was the entire point of the agreement. Compliance will be monitored by all of the signatories to the agreement. It’s not perfect, but it’s the best option.

                  “I’m sure the Iranians are concerned about upholding laws while waging terrorism around the region and world.” I don’t suppose it’s occurred to you that the government of Iran might have some interests other than spreading terrorism? Perhaps its own economy is a factor? Perhaps there are those within the government that are sick of being a pariah state? I know that it’s a lot easier tho think in stark, black-and-white terms. That darn nuance just makes things confusing, doesn’t it? Even so, it’s there.

  5. Submitted by beryl john-knudson on 08/11/2015 - 11:16 pm.

    Thanks to Klobuchar…now Franken?

    Klobuchar summed up Obama’s rationale and I certainly agree with Obama’s point of view.

    Seems like a wise move by Klobuchar at this time…but what does “increased assistance to Israel” suggest…and Bibi too I assume? What is that all about or what is so implied?

    I’m surprised because ‘Klo’ usually clings to a moderate position on world issues, yet mighty glad she came out once with respect for Obama’s perspective.

    Now if we could cut down on those170 plus nukes of our own which is enough to blow up this world how many times?

    …and what has it been, two or three changes-of-command at the Minot base to clean up their acts? Wayward nukes and careless security loopholes does not exactly give confidence? Does not sound too good eh?

    Does make this one worry a bit…who’s guarding the hen house; who has been not too carefully, guarding those silos…wow.

  6. Submitted by Roy Everson on 08/12/2015 - 04:56 am.

    Explanation is due

    “Diifficult decision,” hmmm. Please explain, senator. Is it because on one hand you have most of the international community, diplomats, nuclear scientists and your own president’s foreign policy team, while on the other hand you might risk the ire of a foreign prime minister who is close to becoming an international pariah and has an unnatural power over our internal politics? I sure hope that’s not what makes it so difficult, senator.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/12/2015 - 11:57 am.

      “Difficult Decision”

      I don’t read too much into those words, but if they mean anything, it’s that she doesn’t want to come across as a rubber stamp for the President’s foreign policy. It’s a way of differentiating herself from the members of Congress who say no without even considering the agreement.

      Think of it as a ritualistic phrase politicians use, like “My worthy opponent.”

  7. Submitted by Jim Million on 08/17/2015 - 11:49 am.

    Staff vs. Line Mangement

    Amy really functions as a senior staff employee, not a line officer. Organizational management requires both types of expertise and temperament.

    She really is not a leader in the executive sense. Such was said by some of her staff attorneys in her prior job, before and during her election to the Senate. That’s OK. Senior staff people are the ones who work out the details at the direction of Line executives. She clearly defers to that leadership.

    I’ve always viewed her as working for the Corporate DFL, if you will, rather than directly for the People. That’s what the fundamentals of the Senate require today–working more for the Party than for one’s State. The House is where the Peoples’ work is done, with understandable messiness. That’s simply the Constitutional diagram of governance.

    Not to pick on Al here, but the commanding Line executive role is also missing in our other Senator. Franken is still figuring it all out and trying to find an effective role. That leaves Minnesota with less traditional (perhaps less effective) leadership positions in the U.S. Senate.

    Since national politics has become ever more a corporate operation of DNC and RNC, our Senators may fit the management design just fine. This said, it makes our choices of Representative very important with respect to the House.

  8. Submitted by Alan Muller on 08/24/2015 - 04:00 pm.

    Sounds about right….

    That’s an interesting take on Klobuchar. She certainly seems a cautious opportunist, not a thinker or a leader.

    I dislike it, and feel unrepresented, but she sure seems to know her audience.

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