Sen. Richard Blumenthal announces he will vote yes on Iran agreement

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HARTFORD -- U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal has announced that he will vote to support the Iran nuclear agreement.

"I've announced this morning that I will vote for the proposed agreement concerning Iran's nuclear program," he said Tuesday.

Blumenthal called it the most complex and consequential decision of his career, saying there are compelling arguments on both sides.

"This deal is better than no deal at all," he argued, though he added that it is not the deal he would have negotiated, but ultimately a deal rejection would isolate the U.S. from its allies and leave Iran's nuclear program unconstrained.

Blumenthal believes the deal should have had a longer duration and a more streamlined inspection process, but at this point he says he will work to strengthen the deal by proposing legislation to crack down on terror financing and bolstering the defenses of our allies, including Israel.

"Israel is a profoundly critical ally to this country,” said Blumenthal, “and I will continue to be a steadfast advocate of providing whatever is needed for its defense."

Leaders at the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford have not taken a political stance on the issue, although they have raised concerns about the deal.

"What we saw with Sen. Blumenthal's announcement was the struggle that he had, along with so many of our community members, deciding on whether he was going to support the deal or not,” said Howard Sovronsky, the CEO and president of the organization. “Our focus right now is recognizing that this deal is likely to be approved, and what we need to do as a Jewish community, the day after in support of Israel, in support of our government, and to ensure that this agreement is enforced."

The senator said the decision was a difficult one.

"I know it will disappoint some people, but I am satisfied that I can live with it, as a matter of conscience and conviction.”

Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland became the crucial 34th vote last Wednesday morning, declaring the agreement is the best way to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Her vote helped Senate Democrats reach the mark needed to keep the Iran nuclear deal alive in Congress, handing President Barack Obama a major foreign policy victory.

Blumenthal marks the 41st Senate Democrat to announce he will vote in favor of the bill.

Congress is set to vote later this month on a resolution disapproving the deal, which is unanimously opposed by Republicans, who call it a dangerous giveaway to Iran.

Obama has vowed to veto the resolution if it passes. It would take 34 votes to uphold his veto, and Democrats now have those votes in hand.

The agreement — signed by Iran, the U.S. and five other world powers — seeks to dismantle Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for billions of dollars in relief from sanctions.

Blumenthal’s decision was the last question mark for Connecticut's congressional delegation, all of whom have pledged their support for the deal.