New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, a senior Democrat, announced in a statement Thursday that he opposes the nuclear deal between the U.S., the world powers and Iran.
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"To me, the very real risk that Iran will not moderate and will, instead, use the agreement to pursue its nefarious goals is too great," Schumer said in a statement.
U.S. Representative Eliot Engel, top democrat on the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, announced he will oppose the agreement as well on Thursday. "The answers I've received simply don't convince me that this deal will keep a nuclear weapon out of Iran's hands, and may in fact strengthen Iran's position as a destabilizing and destructive influence across the Middle East," Engel said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been pushing lawmakers to oppose the nuclear agreement, which he considers a threat to his country's survival. Some pro-Israel groups have also been spending millions of dollars on an advertising campaign to push members of Congress to vote no.
The U.S. Congress has until Sept. 17 to vote on a resolution of disapproval of the Iran deal, which would eliminate Obama's ability to waive all sanctions on Iran imposed by the U.S. Congress, a key component of the agreement.
Obama has promised a veto if it is passed by the House and Senate.
Republicans would need dozens of Democrats to vote against Obama to override a veto so, while Thursday's announcements are a blow to the president, opponents of the deal still face an uphill battle to enact a resolution.
Several Democrats in both the House and Senate have already come out in favor of the nuclear deal. Schumer's colleague from New York, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, announced her support on Thursday.
Schumer said lawmakers would come to their own conclusions but he would try to persuade other senators to vote against the Iran deal. Schumer is currently the number three Democrat in the Senate and is in line to succeed Harry Reid as the party's leader in the chamber when Reid retires in early 2017.
"There are some who believe that I can force my colleagues to vote my way," he said.
"While I will certainly share my view and try to persuade them that the vote to disapprove is the right one, in my experience with matters of conscience and great consequence like this, each member ultimately comes to their own conclusion," Schumer said.
A congressional aide said Engel would vote for a resolution of disapproval and also vote to override an Obama veto if the resolution passed Congress. However, Engel did not say he would lobby against the deal among other lawmakers.
Schumer's opposition was first reported by the Huffington Post. He said in his statement he opposed the nuclear deal because he believed Iran would not change and that the deal would let it eliminate sanctions while retaining "nuclear and non-nuclear power."
"Better to keep U.S. sanctions in place, strengthen them, enforce secondary sanctions on other nations, and pursue the hard-trodden path of diplomacy once more, difficult as it may be," Schumer said.