The top Senate Democrat just came out in favour of a controversial nuclear deal with Iran

Outgoing Senate Minority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nevada) is throwing his weight behind a multi-national nuclear deal with Iran supported by President Barack Obama.

In an interview with the Washington Post on Sunday, Reid said he had decided to back the deal several weeks ago, and would begin helping the administration ensure that it survives a challenge from opponents, including every Senate Republican and a handful of Democrats with close ties to Israel.

“I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure the deal stands,” Reid said, according to the Washington Post. 

Shortly after the article was published, Reid quickly tweeted it out, reiterating his support.

The deal would provide billions in sanctions relief to Iran, in exchange for an agreement that Iran wind down its nuclear program almost entirely for several years. 

Reid’s support comes at a critical time for the deal as the Obama administration lobbies sceptical Congressional Democrats, who contend the deal does not do enough to keep Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. 

In order for the deal to go through, Obama only needs to ensure that Congress does not pass any legislation that would keep him from honouring the terms of the agreement.

But opponents almost certainly have the votes to keep sanctions against Iran in place, which would break the agreement to lift sanctions in exchange for nuclear cooperation from Iran. If Congress votes to keep sanctions in place, or votes on a resolution of disapproval of the deal, Obama will very likely veto.

To override the president’s veto — which opponents are aiming to do —  Republicans need every GOP member of Congress as well as 13 Senators and 44 House Democrats.

The deal has put some Democrats in a tough position. Many top figures in Israel, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, vehemently oppose the deal, and have lobbied Congress hard to ensure that they can override a presidential veto.

Several influential Democrats, including future Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-New York) and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey) have come out against the deal, citing problems with enforcement that they say will allow Iran to develop its nuclear program discreetly. 

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