Senate Republicans failed for the second time Tuesday night to advance a measure disapproving of the Iran nuclear agreement. The resolution up for debate hadn’t changed at all from the previous Thursday, when the deal’s naysayers pulled together 58 of the 60 votes they’d need. They fell down to 56 on Tuesday: Presidential hopefuls Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Rand Paul of Kentucky, scheduled to appear in separate debates Wednesday in California, missed the vote.
Republicans took to the floor in advance of the cloture vote, which was widely expected to fail, to deride the agreement, which Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called “indefensible on its merits.” Tim Scott of South Carolina said that, if the pact were implemented, he’d be able to “almost circle on the calendar the date that Iran will have a nuclear weapon,” and John Cornyn of Texas said the monitoring program amounted to “a selfie stick the Iranian regime is going to carry around and do their own tests.”
Opposition to the Iran nuclear deal might be popular among American conservatives and especially the GOP presidential primary contenders (Paul and Graham’s skipping out on this critically symbolic vote notwithstanding), but the agreement has picked up one high-profile supporter who’s about to hit the trail in the U.S. himself: Pope Francis.
The Associated Press reported that “the Holy See’s secretary for relations with states said in Vienna on Monday that the Vatican backs the agreement because it thinks the best way to resolve disputes is through dialogue and negotiation.”