September 2, 2015 | Quote

Cardin’s Conundrum: Top Democrat Agonizes Over Iran Deal

For 40 minutes it was tranquil sailing for Sen. Ben Cardin as the Maryland Democrat — and most influential lawmaker still undecided on the Iran nuclear deal — fielded questions from students about the accord.

Then came junior Liam Haviv’s turn.

The Israeli-born Jewish Republican denounced the “scary precedent” Cardin set as the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when he shepherded through Congress a law that all but ensured President Barack Obama’s deal would survive.

The typically even-keeled Cardin flashed rare emotion, passionately recalling his vote against the Iraq War a decade ago and his subsequent support for the military. Cardin, 71, vowed to rally behind Obama regardless of how he votes this time.

“When this is over, we’ve got to support the president,” Cardin said at the forum Tuesday on the campus of Johns Hopkins University.

Cardin is under more scrutiny than other Democrats because of his role, along with Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), in crafting the law that allowed Congress to review the pact. The big question now is whether a resolution of disapproval would even make it to Obama's desk, since Democrats plan to filibuster it. Opponents say Cardin should vote at least to force Obama to veto the measure — and confront the fact that a majority of Congress disapproves of the deal.

“His name is on the bill. That legislation was set up specifically to give members a vote,” said Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, which opposes the deal. “If Cardin and others are not going to permit the vote on this deal and there’s going to be a Democratic filibuster … that defeats the intent of the legislation.”


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