Congress returns to debate Iran nuclear deal

Credit: Jamie Dupree

Credit: Jamie Dupree

Ending a lengthy summer break, lawmakers in the House and Senate return to work this week on Capitol Hill, starting their session with a politically charged debate and vote on a Republican resolution that would block President Obama's nuclear deal with Iran.

Credit: Jamie Dupree

Credit: Jamie Dupree

The issue has energized Republicans, who argue the nuclear deal doesn't do enough to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and this week it will attract more than just Congressional opposition.

Debate will begin Tuesday in the Senate and on Wednesday in the House; right now, a majority of Congress is likely ready to vote to disapprove of the Iran agreement, but it's not clear if that plan will even get to the President for a veto.

Democrats have already mustered enough votes in Congress to block any GOP effort to override a Presidential veto of this disapproval resolution - but the White House would really like a few more Democrats to filibuster the plan, stopping the plan on Capitol Hill, before it gets to the President's desk.

"Supporters and critics of the Iran nuclear agreement have always known that sixty votes would be necessary to advance any resolution in the Senate," said Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid.

Democrats in recent weeks have rallied behind President Obama on the Iran deal, not because they're convinced it is perfect, but because they say it's the best available move right now.

"Supporting the Iran agreement is the better of two flawed options," said Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), who announced his support of the Iran deal in recent days.

The White House on Sunday finally won over the head of the national Democratic Party, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), who had stayed on the fence for weeks on the agreement while other south Florida Democrats came out against the plan.

"This is the most difficult decision I have had to make in the nearly 23 years I have served in elected office, and this vote will be the most consequential," the Florida Democrat wrote in an op-ed in the Miami Herald newspaper.

24 hours later, the normally press savvy Wasserman Schultz had still not used Twitter to showcase her decision, which seemed certain to anger some of her Jewish constituency in south Florida.

The House is scheduled to vote in relation to the Iran deal by Friday at the latest; a timetable for a Senate vote remains unclear.

More than just the Iran vote

The month of September won't all be about the Iran nuclear deal - also on the horizon in the Congress are a number of other issues. They include:

+ Partisan battles over funding the federal budget, which runs out September 30

+ Efforts by some Republicans to block money for Planned Parenthood; a House panel holds a first hearing Wednesday on those undercover videos and how the group sells fetal tissue from abortions

+ A visit to Washington and a speech to the Congress by Pope Frances on September 24

+ A possible coup attempt against Speaker John Boehner by more conservative Republicans in the House.

And don't forget the intersection of the Presidential race with whatever is going on in the Congress; the next GOP debate is September 16.

After a quiet August, it should be a busy September.