President Obama's campaign to win support for the nuclear deal with Iran got a forceful boost Sunday when Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada announced his endorsement. Reid, the Senate's top Democrat, says he will "do everything in [his] power" to make sure the deal stands.
Reid's backing adds even more weight to a groundswell of support building on Capitol Hill for the deal between the U.S., Iran and five other nations.
In a statement, Reid says he "strongly supports" the agreement, calling it "the best path to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon."
Critics of the deal, which include almost all congressional Republicans and the government of Israel, say the agreement gives away too many concessions to Iran and that under the deal it will be easier for Iran to become a nuclear-armed state.
Reid says in his statement that the deal prevents Iran's leaders from obtaining weapons that could allow them to make good on their threats towards Israel:
"Ensuring Israel's security is of the utmost importance to me. I support this deal because I believe it is the best option to halt any Iranian nuclear weapons program and therefore to protect the State of Israel. ... From the Bonds for Israel dinners I attended 50 years ago to the history of my wife's family, my relationship with the State of Israel and the Jewish people has always been personal."
According to the Washington Post, Reid says he has been supportive of the agreement for many weeks. With his statement, he becomes the 27th Democrat to announce support for the deal, the newspaper reports:
"That whip count, along with many private conversations he has had with undeclared Democrats, led Reid to pronounce he was "cautiously optimistic" that he would be able to secure enough support to prevent an override of Obama's veto of a resolution opposing the deal. An override would require opponents mustering 13 Democrats to join all 54 Republicans in opposition to the president."
Earlier this month, two other high-ranking Senate Democrats, New Jersey's Robert Menendez and New York's Chuck Schumer, announced their opposition to the deal.
But Obama scored another victory this week: Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., endorsed the deal after receiving a detailed letter from Obama. Nadler told NPR member station WNYC that after "exhaustive" examination of the deal, he ultimately decided to support it — making him the first Jewish member of the New York delegation to do so.
The Republican-led Congress is set to vote on a resolution of disapproval when it returns from summer recess next month.